Frequently Asked Questions
I was asked today, "What exactly do you do? I know there are horses involved, but I don't really understand it." It was a wonderful question, one that has cropped up enough that it makes you sit down and put into words the feelings in your heart. Here is what I found there:
What is Herd Spirit?
Herd Spirit is a partnership between horse and human for individual growth and healing. Practically speaking, we are a partnership between Ezra Marrow, Gita Matlock, and the horses who have come to work with us and our clients. We are facilitators, guides, and teachers who create a sacred space for personal transformation through retreats, custom workshops, classes, and private sessions with horses.
The horse and its innate gifts allow us to ground our ideals in the practical, physical world by experiencing alignment within our four-part self (physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual) with a compassionate, nonjudgmental being as witness. The name chosen for this work has many meanings, among them is an acronym for the model of personal transformation offered here:
H.E.R.D. Healing Equine Reflection & Discovery
Healing: In the presence of horses, humans experience measurable physiological, psychological, and spiritual healing. Our heartbeats entrain with theirs, creating a very real experience of connection and belonging. Studies and decades of practice in the field of equine assisted therapies have shown that being in the presence of horses helps humans to regulate their emotions, build confidence, recover mobility, communicate with clarity, and so much more. On an energetic level, horses are able to release energy blockages, traumas, and wounds for themselves, their herd mates, and humans through very simple embodied movements that the horse performs at will.
Equine: There is a deeper purpose to our partnership with horses. This deserves volumes of words, but suffice it to say that the horse exemplifies a non-predatory nature and invites us to find balance between our own dualities – feminine/masculine, yin/yang, creator/destroyer, master/disciple, lion/lamb. In partnership, we heal and learn to work from energy and intention, to listen deeply, communicate universally, and live congruently.
Reflection: Anyone who has spent time with horses will confirm the horse has an incredible ability to mirror outwardly what you feel inwardly. This seemingly magical gift is due to 50 million years of evolution on the part of the horse. They have learned to live in perfect attunement with others as a means of avoiding the lions, tigers, and bears for millennia. Now, when partnered with the human – a natural predator – the horse chooses to treat us as a herd member and reflect back to us the realities of our four-part being.
Discovery: As herd animals who have survived since the late Paleocene period, they have evolved a way of being that is mutually beneficial, light on the earth, and in alignment with their purpose. They communicate with clarity, live in matriarchal groups where leadership is a responsibility earned through fairness and good judgement, process complex emotions without resistance, learn new skills in a single instant, live always in presence, seek out a state of peace, and value relationships built on trust. They invite us to discover our own innate skills, to practice those that they have developed more fully, and to explore our inner truth because they perceive it so clearly.
The horse is a partner on our journey to our own higher self. In that way, she is a teacher, a guide, and a divine friend. She has wounds and imperfections, limitations, and misplaced beliefs too. And yet, when we enter into an intentionally spiritual partnership, we are able together to heal, reflect, and discover our true selves and our higher purpose side by side.
Where do you work?
The Herd Spirit equine center is located in the heart of Ananda Village, a thriving spiritual community for more than fifty years. Nestled in the Sierra Nevada foothills of California, Ananda Village is home to more than 200 residents who are deeply committed to their path of Kriya Yoga.
Each year, thousands of visitors come to train in yoga and meditation, enjoy personal retreats at one of Ananda's two retreat centers, or walk amongst the famous tulip gardens of Crystal Hermitage. As COVID-19 recedes, we will create destination retreats at stables and ranches around the world with like-minded vibration.
What can I expect when I show up?
Expect to be changed. Expect to be challenged. Expect to be uplifted. Expect to be met with open heart and loving presence. The effects can last for hours, days, weeks, months, or a lifetime. And, expect to think, "What came up is too big, I don't think I can do this." Expect that we believe in you. You can.
(Charlie Mackesy - go buy his book The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse, you'll be glad you did)