My Horses, My Healers by Shelley Rosenberg
We are pleased to announce that The Epona Center’s Ranch Manager/Head Trainer Shelley Rosenberg has had significant success with her first book. My Horses, My Healers is the candid story of how the Grand Prix dressage rider and trainer transformed a childhood experience of abuse into a protocol for self-healing through lessons she learned from her horses.
“This is an immensely courageous book,” says Epona Center founder and bestselling author Linda Kohanov. “Shelley not only shares relevant details from her family’s unspoken tolerance of sexual abuse, she also rips through the veil of secrecy surrounding the mainstream equestrian world’s longstanding tolerance of physical, emotional and sexual abuse. Far too many apprentice trainers, grooms, and barn workers suffer under a system of dominance and intimidation that condones, sometimes actually encourages, the victimization of people as often as it justifies the mistreatment of horses, and for the exact same reasons: ego and profit. Learning how to change these destructive patterns in the horse world, and in ourselves, is no small task, as Shelley so eloquently reveals. And yet it is the horses themselves who wait, so patiently, for the very people attracted to their power, beauty and spirit, to wake up to the deeper, more soulful lessons these remarkable beings have to teach.”
During the last year, Shelley has teamed up with psychiatrist and trauma specialist Nancy Coyne, M.D., to create a series of equine-facilitated workshops especially for trauma survivors and people who work with them. “After all those years of training for the show circuit,” Shelley says, “I’ve only recently come to understand how talented horses are helping people explore the inner world of emotion, vulnerability, relationship, and intimacy. We’ve had ministers and rabbis, house wives, holocaust survivors, business executives, and therapists come together to move through those deeper layers of trauma that keep so many people from reaching their true potential and enjoying their lives.”
As Dr. Coyne writes on the back cover of the book, Shelley “speaks from her heart and helps us learn from our horse colleagues ways to become more authentic and vulnerable with our human partners—ways to heal our wounded capacity to love and trust. This is a very important book for therapists, survivors, and all of us.”
My Horses, My Healers can be ordered on Amazon.com, purchased at the Epona Center gift shop, and is also available at many bookstores. See the end of this newsletter (Section V) for Linda Kohanov’s forward to the book. Shelley will also be a guest facilitator at Linda Kohanov’s writer’s retreat, Writing between the Worlds, discussing the benefits and details of self publishing and promoting your own book. (See Sections III and IV of this newsletter.)
Horses As Healers: For Trauma Survivors
The Horses as Healers program is a 7-day workshop where horses are co-facilitators in providing experiential learning and corrective emotional experiences for survivors of trauma.
Shelley Rosenberg, author of the just published, My Horses, My Healers, will be assisted in this workshop by Nancy Coyne, MD, guest psychiatrist. Each day will include information about trauma and the damage it has caused, as well as experiences with horses that mobilize healing and facilitate the rebuilding of trust, confidence, and self-esteem. Areas covered in the workshop are safety and boundary setting, developing authentic relationship, learning to utilize emotion as information, creating authentic community, and self-care for survivors. The role of various forms of spiritual practice, bodywork, psychotherapy, and medication in healing from trauma will be covered.
To register, obtain more details and receive lodging information, please email Shelley Rosenberg at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 520-455-5918.
Summer Workshop Update
Black Horse Wisdom
There are currently two spaces left in Linda Kohanov’s upcoming workshop Black Horse Wisdom to be held July 17 to 21st. One of her most popular workshops is taken to a new level of immersion as a residential retreat where moonlight meditations and interactions with the horses enhance the experience. This powerful workshop is for people who would like to exercise their intuitive abilities through reflective and active engagement with horses, journeying, and interactions with mythic equine images and archetypes. Linda Kohanov, composer Steve Roach, and Epona Advanced Instructor Carol Roush will coach participants in multiple intuitive/creative techniques, including accessing the Horse Ancestors (the collective wisdom of horses), simple yet profound animal communication techniques with members of the Epona herd, visionary/journeying experiences with live music, and ways of using Linda’s upcoming Way of the Horse wisdom cards (art by Kim McElroy) and guidebook for personal reflection and guidance.
Writing Between the Worlds
Four spaces are open for Linda’s long-awaited writer’s retreat, Writing between the Worlds held August 19 to 21. Linda would like to speak personally with those interested in attending by scheduling a short telephone interview upon registering.
“There is a certain amount of preparation I will be doing for individuals several weeks before the workshop,” she says. “I’d like to find out their writing goals, challenges, and any special projects they’d like to work on during the week. And if they are working on a particular project, a book, story, or article, it would be advantageous for me to receive at least part of the draft in the mail so I can better get to know their topic, writing style, and goals before they arrive.”
For registration and information on these workshops, contact Paula Bixby at 520-455-5908 or email@example.com
(Make sure you include your telephone number and good times to call in inquiries about Writing between the Worlds so that we can set up an interview with you and Linda.)
For more information on other workshops, including trainings held throughout the world by Epona Approved Instructors, see the Epona website: www.taoofequus.com.
Details on Writing between the Worlds
As a bestselling author and a journalist with 20 years experience in magazine and newspaper writing, Linda Kohanov regularly receives manuscripts and inquiries from people interested in getting published. “It’s really quite amazing the amount of material that comes through my office,” she marvels. “I actually spend a significant amount of time looking through the heartfelt stories and powerful experiences people work so hard to capture in writing. And I do send the more highly developed ideas and sample chapters on to my agent and/or publisher. Rarely, however, do these projects make it to publication. Over the last six years, I’ve gained a deeper understanding of why through extensive conversations with my agent, editor, and other published authors I’ve come to know.”
During this workshop, Linda will be coaching writers, offering techniques for dealing with that debilitating inner critic that holds people back from accessing true creativity, while at the same time revealing how to get your writing to the level of quality, nuance, emotional import, and finesse that attracts publishers, and most importantly, readers. What is that extra something that publishers are looking for? How do you capture of the interest of an agent who will truly champion your work? What pitfalls do writers face in the publishing world? What does a winning book proposal cover? When is self-publishing the best option, and how do you go about it? Why do even some of the most emotionally arresting, well written, strongly reviewed projects sell dismally, making publishers increasingly skeptical of personal experience narratives? When does deeply felt personal experience warrant the wider audience publishers are seeking? How do you turn your most significant ideas into words that captivate, inform, and literally change readers’ lives?
And most importantly, why should you write, regardless of whether you are planning to be published?
“The answers to these questions are way too complex for me to convey in a simple email or phone conversation with the writers who contact me,” Linda emphasizes. “Good writing seems so clear, so simple, so straight forward, so obvious, but as most writers will tell you, it’s hard work. Hard work with a big payoff, that is—in personal satisfaction, in greater awareness of yourself and the world around you, in the very development of your soul.”
“While I have been successful commercially as a writer,” she continues, “it has been an amazing journey of expanding consciousness to learn how to translate pure experience into narratives that move others. I have been told many times that the power of my writing is being able to say what others have felt but could never translate into words, making scientific and philosophical ideas accessible by relating them to my own experience, and grounding mystical experiences into this world. This is what I will be teaching writing wise, in addition to sharing how I got an agent and the process we went through to find just the right publisher. If people are interested, I will also be covering how to tap into other outlets like newspaper and magazine writing which I have also done, and as you know, can lead to interest from book publishers.”
Autobiographical narrative will be a significant topic in the workshop. It is the basis of what made Linda’s books unexpectedly successful, allowing her to draw together a wide variety of philosophical, historical, psychological, mystical, and equestrian-oriented subjects.
“As for the horses’ involvement in our retreat,” Linda reveals, “I will be facilitating experiences with them that open sensory awareness, intuition, and creativity, coaching participants in doing some short writing projects about these experiences. Then I will be assisting people in editing, ‘reaching between the lines’ to go deeper into drawing out the most powerful yet most elusive nonverbal experiences and translating them into words.
“Part of my training as a writer came from playing and writing about music for many years, again taking the nonverbal and translating it into words. We will have some experiences with music, both listening to it and playing it (no musical experience needed for this), purely for the effect it has on switching your mind to a more creative, nuance-sensitive channel. And we will be spending some time in nature, at various times of the day, for essentially the same inspirational reasons. During the week, I will also meet privately with each person about any projects they are working on, and for anyone who is working on a particular project, this time will be maximized by sending me a project description and an excerpt ahead of time.”
All meals and lodging are included. Each room is private, air conditioned, with a shared bath. “Many of the rooms look out over the pastures where our black horse family lives. They have been the ultimate source of inspiration to me and many other people over the years. We have wireless internet service here. And great meals. Hope you will be able to join us!”
Writing between the Worlds
This in-depth writer’s workshop draws on Linda’s extensive experience as a professional journalist and best-selling author. For anyone who would like to expand their writing skills and learn how to market their work, while accessing greater creativity through reflective work with horses. This workshop is designed to give participants plenty of time to write in the inspiring setting of historic Apache Springs Ranch, while also offering writing hints, creativity expansion exercises, private consultations/editing sessions with Linda, and advice on getting published, from newspaper and magazine articles, to engaging agents and book publishers. Epona Ranch Manager Shelley Rosenberg, author of My Horses, My Healers, will also discuss the benefits and details of self publishing and marketing. Composer Steve Roach will offer live musical experiences to boost creativity and intuitive confidence. Workshop is limited to eight participants.
Linda Kohanov’s Forward to My Horses, My Healers by Shelley Rosenberg
It’s like finding water in the desert. You’re meandering through fields of shriveled cactus, taking each step on faith, reciting oasis prayers in a land intent on challenging your very survival, when you catch the first whiff of something green. Is it an illusion, a trick of the mind melting in the trances of an unbridled sun? Or is it something real and true and lifesaving?
When I first met Shelley Rosenberg in the mid-1990s, I might as well have been following a mirage. Or maybe, more accurately, searching for a mythical being: a horse trainer who knew much more than me and was still honest about what she didn’t know, someone willing to ride into the unknown and explore what others considered impossible. At first she seemed like all the others, someone qualified to drill me in the well-established, yet certainly dynamic, tenets of classical dressage. Over time, however, something unspoken changed my mind. Something in the way she took on the challenge of my troubled stallion, his mare, and their premature foal gave me the confidence to ask this woman, whose art I could never touch, to collaborate with me on new ways of relating to horses. Shelley not only proved she was up for the task she actually became essential to the ongoing evolution of my training program at the Epona Center.
Now that I think back on it, Shelley did have much in common with Melanippe, the mythical mare-headed goddess of ancient Greece. She always maintained an air of mystery about her, mostly because like any horse in human form, Shelley preferred the silent language of gesture and intent. An extended conversation with her was, like an Arizona thunderstorm in May, an unpredictable event, though certainly as invigorating. She was, quite simply, more at home with her equine friends, though she didn’t put up with bull from either species. And like the magnificent dressage horses she rode in on, she seemed to look right through you, to the core, with a piercing gaze you might take as judgmental until you got to know her better and realized she didn’t waste a lot of time mulling over the mundane affairs and personality quirks of humans. She was with you when she was with you, and when you left the barn, she was giving her next student the same unwavering concentration and support.
In fact, Shelley’s intolerance for human drama, which others found intimidating, was refreshing to me. At the same time, she wasn’t one to shrink from a true crisis of conscience or a sincere emotional challenge. Here was a woman, I thought, who had truly lived through something significant, something that was still changing her life behind the scenes. Here was a woman who knew how to find, no, create an oasis in the desert. She was willing to dig deep, put some effort into drawing those life giving waters up to the surface—and sharing this hard-won, soul quenching elixir with others.
The book you’re holding in your hands is the fruit of that labor, a tempestuous journey she took with the help of her horses. Shelley’s willingness to chronicle her own search for fulfillment in a world that seemed to plot against it, her candid portrayal of injustices she witnessed and endured, her honesty in exploring her own moments of weakness and self-doubt at times adds up to the impression that you’re digging a deep and tenuous well with her—the feeling of dirt mixed with sweat and a few cactus needles stinging your arms isn’t always pleasant.
Shelley insists that the horses who carried her along the way saved her life more often than she might have saved theirs. But I know that in reality, they saved each other. Through their mutual efforts to regain freedom and dignity, Shelley and the horses she worked with over the years have set a precedent for the equestrian world to take a long hard look at longstanding abuses of both species.
There is tremendous courage and compassion in this book, enhanced by the thoughtful, graceful collaboration of writing partner Beck Andrus. I, for one, am both humbled and inspired by Shelley’s story, and her willingness to tell it. As she ceaselessly, unflinchingly shines that electric gaze of hers inward, seeing through to her own fragile core, she ultimately challenges us to do the same. It’s hard work, plain and simple, but the rewards are forever overflowing.