Category Archives: Blog

Winter News & 2016 Calendar

“This year will not be just another year. It’s the absolute richest I’ve ever imagined, with the most possibilities I’ve ever offered. for the coolest people  I’ve ever known to do the greatest things ever done.  Set the bar high.” The Universe~
The past couple months have been one’s of deep reflection, setting goals and planning ahead. Planning where I want to go and grow personally and where Horse Sense will go and grow this year.  We have some exciting things coming up this year!  We will be offering some new events and some special women’s retreats this year!  We are also planning to offer Grit with Grace to teens who are preparing to go off on their own!  Check out the new Equusology book in our store!  Read the rest of this newsletter and March specials here.


Eyes Wide Open


IMG_1906This afternoon I was preparing to chop kindling for this week. I had the axe ready in my right hand and the 8” x 4” x 17″ piece of knot-free firewood carefully balanced on the chopping block.  “This one will be easy”, I thought. 

The goal:  Swing hard enough to break the piece of wood into two smaller and then 4 smaller pieces so I could easily chop the pieces into kindling for my fires.  Swinging an axe to split a larger piece of wood takes more precision and technique than it sometimes does with a heavier splitting maul.

The technique: Grasp the axe handle with both hands, right above left, raising it above my right shoulder.  Eye on the mark. Deep breath and swing with determination with an exhale and eyes wide open. 

Swing #1:  Deep breath.  Axe on the ready. Swing with determination….  Contact!  However, the axe didn’t even stick! Darn. I had held my breath. 

Swing #2.  I grasped the handle with both hands, right above left and raised the axe above my right shoulder.  Eye on the mark.  Deep breath, swinging with determination and pushing my breath and energy out with focus.  The axe head glances off the wood.  I had closed my eyes in mid-swing.  What?  I know better than this! 

This experience got me thinking about how we approach what we want to achieve or do or feel; about those things we want change.  Things we may have even made a vow to do or not do at the New Year. 

Have you ever experienced setting out to work on a goal or intention but put obstacles in your own way?  Held back?  Held your breath? Closed your eyes and hoped it would work out?  I can relate. If I set out to achieve something, say chop that kindling, and don’t have a clear focus, I hold back. I hold my breath and there is no energy behind my swing.  If I set out to chop that kindling and have the breath and the energy behind it but I close my eyes, I will likely miss.

Swing #3: Hands in place, axe ready, breath in, clear focus on the mark.  I swing as my breath and energy push out with intention and eyes are wide open.  Success!  Goal achieved with clear focus, energy, action and eyes wide open!

Which of your goals are you hitting dead on?  On which might you be holding your breath or closing your eyes? 

Even if you haven’t set goals or intentions, I would love to hear from you.  How do you move forward toward what you want small or large?

With eyes wide open.



Moving Through Change


Moving Through Change

Here we are.  Fall.  A time of change and transition of seasons.  As we transition into the darker time of year, we are at a prime time of looking within, at where we have been, where we are going, and how we handle change. How we respond to change and transitions usually depends upon what type of change we are facing.

I was recently reading a Colorado State University article about change, Transitions & Changes: Practical strategies by S. Quick, R.S. Fetsch & M. Rupured who wrote about strategies to help us avoid creating unfinished business. Exactly what we learn to assist people in clearing with the Equine Gestalt Coaching Method! Change whether gradual or sudden, smooth and gradual, or abrupt and unpredictable can be uncomfortable and bring up feelings of fear and uncertainty.

People often tend to move away from pain and discomfort.  The authors point out that when people rush into change, into the new, they often end up exhausted, frustrated and stressed, with unfinished business which gets in the way of completing today’s transitions. The article contains a list of three stages of transitions during life changes, Fall, Winter and Spring, and strategies to help avoid creating unfinished business and ways to be more flexible during our own change processes:

Fall transition: A time of ending, of harvest. Since every transition or change begins with an ending, honor endings. Seek closure. Celebrate the harvest or gifts gained along the way. Stay present with feelings.

Winter transition:   Here we aren’t yet fully connected to the new nor completely disconnected from the old.  There may be feelings of confusion or emptiness. During this stage, the authors suggest taking time to reflect, increase self-awareness, seek the “gains” in the new, and stay present with feelings.

Spring transition:  A time of new beginnings, letting go of the old, looking at what you need now. What needs nourished, nurtured? Stepping into the vision of how you want to be.  Setting short term flexible goals (SMART plan anyone?)  Stay present. Reward yourself!

As you reflect on your own process of change, of manifesting your visions:

What is changing in your life?

How to you want to move through change?

Where are you flexible, resilient?

What do you need to finish so that you can move forward?

What is holding you back?

What needs nurturing in order to fully step into the new?

Happy moving through change!

In Joy,


Supporting Parents

April was Child Abuse Prevention Month and I was invited to participate in The Nurturing Center’s Blue Ribbon Event.  The invitation got me reflecting upon child abuse and neglect, things I learned during my career in the Child Welfare System, as a parent, a grandparent and from wise ones before me. (Don’t get me wrong, I am still learning and trying to figure things out.)  I have learned a couple very important things along the way. First, we help the children best by supporting their parents.  Second, I am sure you have heard the saying, “walk a mile in my shoes”.  We really cannot know another’s journey or why they do what they do by the one-time observation of the young mother’s harsh reaction to her whining 4 year old and screaming 18 month in the shopping cart at the grocery store.  Or what about the family who lives down the road with children running around unsupervised, barefoot in 40 degree weather, yard full of dogs and mess?  Easy to judge.  Without knowing the “how did life get this way for you mom?” we can’t know her journey.  Maybe life is just too damn stressful for her right now. Maybe she never learned about structure and supervision.

It all starts with you.  As in all of us.  As in instead of demonizing and further shaming parents, I mean supporting parents.  Ever make a mistake?  If you are a parent, maybe you had a less than shining parenting moment, or two or three or more.  I know I did.  How did you feel?  Chances are you felt some shame.  Maybe it was Tuesday morning and your stress level was over the top and little Charlie spilled the milk. You reacted in the moment and maybe struck him or screamed at him or whatever but that is not your daily parenting style.  Here’s the secret and I used to share it all the time while working with families and while training Child Protection Workers, “you can’t give what you didn’t get” aka you can’t give what you ain’t got.  And you know what?  When we know better we do better.  Someone smart said that somewhere along my trail. When parents are supported and less stressed, children are less stressed, less at risk.

So the next time you see a parent clearly frustrated, irritated or even clearly angry over their child’s public behavior, remember it starts with you – Smile not scowl. Reassure, in some off hand way, how challenging it can be to have little ones in the store.  You might just prevent an act of frustration behind closed doors once out of the public eye.  You just might convey care and understanding.  And that parent just might feel supported in a small way and better about themselves as a parent.

When I begin to feel judgment I try to remember this –

“There but for the grace of God go I.”



Envisioning 2015

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January 1, 2015 by Brenda Westwood

Happy New Year!

It’s that time of year when many are setting goals, intentions and resolutions for 2015.  As I look forward to what I want to be, do and experience with Horse Sense Healing and personally in 2015, I wanted to share a few thoughts.

We are not just the sum total of our life experiences.  We do not have to be defined by our past, those old stories.  Sometimes stories of lack and limitation, fault-finding and fear woven have been into our stories by others.  Are these experiences, feelings, thoughts, actions that you want to bring with you into this New Year?  I suspect there are some you would like to leave behind! Whether it is a habit, a behavior, inaction, thoughts, doubts, or feelings. I sure have some thoughts and feelings that I would like to at least take out of the driver’s seat. You know, thoughts like, “Am I good enough? “I don’t have ‘time’ or I am too busy!”  What do you want to leave behind? What no longer serves you?

I believe that we are beings of infinite possibilities – we are born that way.  What do you want to bring with you or create in 2015?  Not just a to-do list, like remodel the kitchen or clean out the closets, but what is your vision of how you will spend your time, energy, thoughts and feelings? Maybe you have had a vision or a dream of doing something amazing for a long time.  Will you begin it this year?  Are you thinking, “Yes, I know of things I want to do, changes I want to make in 2015 but I rarely take action on my resolutions or intentions?” Or, “Who has the time, energy or motivation to follow through?”  Or perhaps you do like many of us and just take care of what is in front of you, what has to be done day after day after day…

That’s okay.  Let’s take a little journey together right now. Sit down and close your eyes.  It’s okay. You’re safe.  Take a nice, slow deep breath, one that goes clear down into your belly.  Let it out slowly and do it again and again until you can feel your body relaxing.  Yes, you can. Now, body relaxed and fully present, allow yourself to sit with these questions: If you could do anything, and I mean anything with nothing stopping you, what would you do with your year? Your future? Dare you remember your dreams and desires of what you wanted to do with your life? What have you been dreaming about doing or experiencing if only…?  What calls your soul? How do you want to feel? How do you want to express your true essence?  Your true inner-self, that beautiful, creative, gifted, talented self?

Now sit with what you discover.  Write it down. The goal setting experts and success gurus counsel us on the importance of writing out our goals and intentions. There are several ways and techniques of goal setting, some very structured and some quite creative.  I suggest finding what works best for you.  Whether a vision board or a SMART plan, the most important ingredients are to: Get clear. Get certain. Get excited. Get focused. Get committed. Get momentum. Get started and right away. So make a plan with small steps toward your vision or goal. I invite you to step, even with just a tippy-toe, into that space. That wondrous, heart-racing, exhilarating space of infinite possibilities!  Just one step at a time!

Dare to dream it. Dare to do it. Dare to be it!

I would love to hear from you.  What are you daring to dream, do or be in 2015?  How will you begin?

Wishing you much joy, abundance and darning dreams in the coming year!





Summer Newsletter 2014

Happy Summer everyone!

I just released my summer newsletter.  You can find it at

It recently hit me that summer is quickly passing by and I had not yet made a visit to my favorite lake for a swim.  When I feel back into summer memories, I find wonderful, playful times with my children and my mother at the lake ~ splashing, playing, swimming, giggling, cooking over a fire and sometimes camping out in our tent.   Today the kids are grown and live far away and mom is growing older and my 55 year old self who still wants to splash and play.  So how often do I push aside my urgings and desires to play?  Far too ofen, I am afraid.  I recently had the pleasure of a visit and road trip with my dear friend and colleague Lisa who is delightfully up for play and adventures.  We kayaked and stopped at will at lakes and streams to jump into ice cold water and refresh our spirits and fed that calling to splash and play!  It is much more motivating to have a side-kick to stop the car, jump out and take a dip.

While I cannot bring back those sunny, fulfilling days of the past, I can feed that playful, fun-loving part of myself any time I choose.  Because adult life sometimes takes us far away from spontaneity and playfulness, my talented colleague and friend, Lisa, and I are now planning to offer Women’s Adventure Retreats!  Yes, opportunities to allow ourselves to play!  Watch for them in 2015.

What opportunities can you take today to be spontaneous? To be in this very moment and seize the urge to have some fun?