Public speaking is still not my favorite pasttime, but with Rupert's indirect coaching and the realization that someone must speak up, I’ve gotten better. I do not fear dying in front of an audience by stress heart attack. Now, I even breathe once in a while, and the shaky voice can almost be controlled. I had to be good be good because this was the day to combine forces with the Professional Association for Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH) in this region- this could be a turning point.
PATH is a well established organization accredited by the government and internationally. In comparison, Horse Boy and Movemment Method are still in early stages of development but moving forward in the right direction. When I was first invited by Deb Michaels to collaborate and co present with Rosemary Graff from Laughing Buck, I wondered why. What did I have to give and offer during a PATH conference? I am not a member, I am certainly not PATH certified, but curious what tools, learning, and collaboration possibilities we might encounter. But while reflecting on the ultimate goal, it became clear, Rosemary and I had a LOT to offer. Our ideal - combining forces, using the best tools available for all of our clients, and moving forward together.
Just like in education, most of us are in it for the right reasons- we want the best for our horses, clients, and to build strength to do this job a the long haul. Why would we battle each other when we have the same goals? My thoughts became clear- allow for tools and understanding of why we do what we do.
Walking into the conference, I felt greatly insecure intruding in such a tightly connected community- oh how I wished I could run back out...Rosemary and I sat in a presentation, andunderstood that a lot of the content, explained what to do, and how to do it in therapeutic riding. What it did not touch on was the how and why- there was our strength.
We made it to our room setting up tech, ready to go. Awkwardly, many folks walked out and Rosemary and I decided "oh well, if none show up, we go back to the barn, take a couple ponies and repeat our lovely morning ride." Five minutes before we started, the room filled.
Rosemary started strong! Her program aligns with everything we do in Horse Boy. She showed her huge heart for true inclusion and her outstanding creativity. I was watching the audience - she had them! Having her masters in English, and having taught certainly showed in her attractive presenting skill. She reeled them in.
￼With a smooth transition into the structured way, giving folks a framework to lean on through Movement Method and Horseboy, I took over. I mentioned how PATH is years ahead, and how we understand reservations, but also pointed out that studies are being conducted internationally, that the importance of togetherness is so much stronger than trying to undermine effective tools. Just like education, it should be a together against the challenges we face in the world. I looked to the crowd and saw many head nods, much support. The body language was attentive, positive, confirming. I dove into the science- presenting it by heart, hardly having to look at the slides. They were on the edge of their seats.
When we opened for questions, I wasn’t sure what to expect- I’ve heard horror stories from presenters, and I wondered at my risk taking.
The questions were more about "How do we make this happen?” and "What experiences we had with certain implementations?” than any critical disrespectful comments- I could breathe out.
The feedback afterwards almost made me cry. I could not attend anything after because my emotions were so touched that I needed to just be with my dogs and unwind. People were shaking our hands, tears in their eyes saying it was the best presentation they have ever heard. Teachers- who I did not realize were in the audience wanted my card to get Movement Method into their school. Folks with therapeutic riding stables could not believe the ideas we presented that could be so easily implemented. Some people mentioned how they never understood the science behind what they did and how it was eye opening to them and made so much sense.
When the leader and organizer of the conference came up to Rosemary and me, she thanked us and said we were an answer to her prayer. She said we might have given her tools to be more successful with certain grant applications, and she invited us to speak at the 50th anniversary national conference in November. It was mind blowing! We will have the opportunity to reach even more folks, spread the word and the ripple effect will be most likely helping more than just one client at a time.