June, 2006 News

Welcome to the new and improved website!

Epona has grown in so many ways since its beginning in 1997, evolving to an international community sharing a common passion in its approach to horses and human development. While long overdue, we are thrilled to announce the initiation of a regular newsletter which will be posted at the www.taoofequus.com site and sent to all who sign up on the automatic mailing list on the home page. Our purpose is to keep you informed about what’s happening at the Epona Center in Arizona, as well as how this work is evolving worldwide through the efforts of our Epona Approved Instructors. We also will include references to various innovations in related fields, such as equine experiential learning, innovative horse training technqiues, energy field theory, interspecies consciousness and communication, intuition, noncompetitive relationship building, and leadership.

Please sign up on the spam-free mailing list for future newsletters. Even if you have received news from Epona in the past, you need to simply enroll your email in the new list on the home page if you want to be kept current.

— Apache Springs Ranch, Sonoita, Arizona

The Epona Center at Apache Springs Ranch — Epona’s new home

As Linda Kohanov tells us: “Way back when I first founded Epona Equestrian Services in 1997 with a group of local horse trainers—four years before The Tao of Equus was published—my ultimate goal was to create a wellness retreat center for horses and humans where professionals in various relevant disciplines could collaborate, share ideas, experiment with new training and healing modalities, learn from each other, and support each other in stretching the boundaries of animal and human consciousness. Little did I know it would take almost a decade to find the right property and the right investors to help support this dream. Little did I know I would have access to like-minded souls from around the world who would explore what we would eventually call ‘authentic community.’”

The Epona Center sits at the base of the Santa Rita Mountains.
The Epona Center sits at the base of the Santa Rita Mountains.

Located at the historic Apache Springs Ranch in Sonoita, AZ, this 130-acre equestrian-oriented conference and retreat center already boasts a good 50 acres of pasture where Epona can finally realize the dream of having horses live in herds. The ranch also came with a covered, lighted arena, an even larger outdoor arena with striking mountain views, numerous stalls and round pens, a house for visiting staff, and apartments for interns/barn staff. It is surrounded by national forest land and some of the most scenic trails in Arizona, all less than an hour’s drive from the Tucson airport in the high desert of Southern Arizona Epona has already received National press on its fast developing stallion program, where Epona trainers are socializing male horses to live more fulfilling lives with their owners, trainers and other horses.

By early 2007, the Conference Center with guest quarters will be complete and moving into full time operation as a destination for workshops, conferences and unique events. Boarding, training and equestrian internship opportunities are already in full swing. (For more information on the latter, contact Epona Ranch Manager/Trainer Shelley Rosenberg at shelley@theeponacenter.com or 520-455-5918.)

Remodeling Construction Begins; a message from Epona Center Co-Founder Steve Roach

After several months of the normal wrangling that goes with pre-construction planning, the sounds of construction equipment never sounded so good. It’s moving fast, and it’s exciting to see the dream taking shape. Before long, we will have some photos posted of the progression. Also coming soon is the launch of the official ApacheSpringsRanch.com web site.

The Stallion Program

NewsEpona’s new stallion program has already been profiled in several respected horse publications, including a two-part article in Equine Journal and Horse Connection. The following description is adapted from the Equine Journal, Feb., 2006 article by Kip Mistral.

“If you consider the average stallion’s life—kept in a box stall with bars, led from stall to turnout that is remote from other horses—the isolation of this kind of life would be considered imprisonment if the subject were a human. Linda Kohanov has come to believe that [this] lack of opportunity to participate in normal herd behavior creates and compounds such anxiety that the prospect of even being near any other horses is emotionally overwhelming. It can be difficult or even impossible for this stallion to control himself, let alone allow himself to be controlled.

“Kohanov feels that these typical circumstances prevent a stallion from thriving, a word used infrequently these days that means to grow and prosper richly. She decided to create a unique Epona program for socializing stallions with their owners/handlers. The program is intended to help stallion owners create living environments modified to help stallions not just survive, but thrive.

An Epona Team Effort

The new stallion program is truly a team effort because Kohanov has welcomed the participation of two professional horse trainers, Stacey Kollman and Shelley Rosenberg, both of whom trained Kohanov before she formed Epona. Together, they are now developing a program to socialize stallions with other horses so in-tact male horses can have fulfilling lives, and help owners and trainers learn effective new techniques of managing stallions.

A New Level of Relationship

“I had this feeling, which turned into a vision,” Kohanov recounts, “that stallions should have their own fulfilled life in which they could actually live in relationship to other horses. At the same time, they could learn to collaborate with humans safely and respectfully—come out every day and work with people, compete if appropriate, even teach people how to be with stallions in a new way, while also returning home to their own herds at the end of the day. In working with our formerly abused stallion, Midnight Merlin, and later his son, stud colt Spirit, we gained confidence that this was indeed possible, and our team of experienced trainers is ready to share these insights and techniques with others.”

NewsSince the Epona stallion program is individualized to each stallion and the relevant issues and humans in his life, the Epona staff thoroughly assesses the scope of each project over a week-long evaluation period where the stallion stays at Apache Springs Ranch. After the stallion has been evaluated and his program developed, the Epona trainers will work with him before his human partners arrive to become part of the process. As Epona stallion specialist Shelley Rosenberg says, “Ultimately, the goal is to assist your stallion, as well as help you both to learn to relate on a different level.”

Horse-to-Horse Integration

In the case of stallions entering into short-term training (three months or less), such stallions will not be integrated into the Epona herd, but they will have more space and freedom than they experience at mainstream boarding and training facilities. Training for both the stallion and his handler, owner and/or trainer is invovled. People learn how to assess their own stallion’s arousal level as well as their own, as the stallion is taught how to thrive: how to become empowered yet respectful of other people and horses, and ultimately, to enjoy his life.

“Students can be part of our living laboratory where they learn the ways that we prepare a stallion to live with his band of mares, or we prepare a stud colt to learn how to be with other horses in a field,” Kohanov says. “After, they can take the stallion home to their own farm, and if they need troubleshooting—for instance, as they are integrating the stallion with mares at their farm—our stallion specicialist Shelly Rosenberg can travel there to provide support.”

The Larger Vision

People who would like to do an intensive study program or longer-term internship in stallion training can study at the Epona Center, with or without their own stallion on site. Some horse experience is necessary for entry into this program. Contact Shelley Rosenberg for more information at shelley@theeponacenter.com or 520-455-5918.

“Learning to channel masculine energy translates to a larger vision for humanity,” Kohanov says. “At Epona, we are teaching cooperation, rather than competition. This stallion program is for people who are really serious about changing the paradigm in which they relate with their stallions as well as the conditions in which the stallions live.”

Stallion Training Opportunities

Epona’s Stallion Program offers two possibilities:

  1. Bring your horse to Epona for a minimum of 2 to 3 months where he will be trained in Epona’s innovative approach. At some point during that time, the owner or trainer will travel to Epona to receive lessons in these same handling and socializing techniques. After returning home, if further assistance is needed, an Epona trainer can travel to your place to help with integration.
  2. Trainers can come and spend time at Epona learning the stallion training methods being pioneered here in a program individually tailored to meet their needs.

News from the Herd

Each month one of the Epona herd members will be featured, along with other resident horses who participate in Epona’s programs.

El Dia

El Dia is a twenty-five year old ranch gelding that Linda acquired in December, 2005. He came from Mexico where he was a working cow horse and has begun his retraining at Epona where he demonstrates excellence in boundary/energy field work. He was taught to ground tie by his former cowboy trainers, which means he was obliged to stand at attention without moving in the presence of humans, who, while not particularly abusive to him, treated him with an all-business, beast of burden orientation. It took him a month of gentle retraining before he would take the initiative to move toward a human being, and another month before he would join up (follow a human off lead).

El Dia had no concept of treats—carrots were foreign objects to him. It took him several weeks to actually try one, and he’s been fond of them ever since. Having worked with men for over two decades, he initially reacted as if women were another perplexing breed completely. At Epona, El Dia has started to come out of his shell, show his true personality and reach out to people, men and women alike, and seems to enjoy the “feminine perspective” on training and relating to horses.

What Else?

Epona’s black mares, Rasa (who started the whole Epona process with Linda) and Comet are both pregnant by Midnight Merlin. What excitement there will be in August and September, when the new babies arrive!

Late Breaking…

The Dutch version of Riding Between The Worlds was just published in the Netherlands, joining the French Edition of The Tao Of Equus.

Scroll to Top