About Barbara Alexander
Hello, and thank you for your interest in these exceptional programs. My name is Barbara Alexander, and I am the President and Founder of Epona Ridge.
For the last fifteen years, I have developed retreats and coaching programs that inspire well-being and joy.
After twenty years in leadership and performance improvement in the corporate environment, I discovered that the measurement of REAL success was far more straightforward; it's the amount of JOY experienced every day. (Read more about Barbara's Journey.) I began to train in the emerging field of experiential learning with horses and discovered the key to inner awareness and the non-verbal world that changed my life forever.
After apprenticing with Linda Kohanov, a best-selling author and pioneer of human development through experiential learning with horses, I became an Eponaquest Worldwide facilitator in 2005. That, combined with training as a Reiki Master, Healer, and Teacher, I discovered the world of energy and connectivity in relationship to all beings.
Over the last decade, I have collaborated with Frederic Pignon and Magali Delgado, two of the world's finest horse trainers, to develop a wholistic approach to life and horsemanship. We have combined the co-creative aspects of connection with equine facilitated learning in the human field of intuitive, emotional, and physical intelligence. Through this work, we have discovered some of the most exciting advances yet. We continue to develop the psychology of energy, interconnectedness, and personal joy as a joyous experience of life for all beings.
Experiential learning has become a powerful and proven approach to teaching based on one incontrovertible reality: people learn best through experience.
Experiential learning with horses offers unfamiliar experiences and unique opportunities to learn personally and professionally because they provide immediate and unbiased feedback. They have an unprecedented ability to tune into an individual’s energy and respond in kind, helping humans discover their strengths and gaps that affect inner balance and clear communication as they improve skills to interpret non-verbal communication accurately.
Most people are so focused on the end goal that they commonly miss vital non-verbal cues. Yet, these cues provide invaluable information that helps cut through blocks, confusion and wasted time.
Extroverted individuals often miss the subtle cues and become overbearing. This can cause a team’s morale and productivity to suffer. Employees who are naturally more introverted often leave feeling they lack value because they don’t feel heard. Through various exercises and discussions, participants of experiential learning discover how to modulate their energy to respond appropriately to others, especially under stressful situations.
I have found that these training techniques build confidence, compassion, and camaraderie as people step outside of their typical environment and experiment with new and fun ways to improve themselves.
The Physiological Component
HeartMath Institute provides a clue to explain the bidirectional “healing” that happens with horses.
“Recent studies conducted by the Institute of HeartMath provides a clue to explain the bidirectional “healing” that happens when we are near horses.
According to researchers, the heart has a larger electromagnetic field and higher level of intelligence than the brain: A magnetometer can measure the heart’s energy field radiating up to 8 to 10 feet around the human body. While this is certainly significant it is perhaps more impressive that the electromagnetic field projected by the horse’s heart is five times larger than the human one (imagine a sphere-shaped field that completely surrounds you). The horse’s electromagnetic field is also stronger than ours and can actually directly influence our own heart rhythm!
Horses are also likely to have what science has identified as a “coherent” heart rhythm (heart rate pattern) which explains why we may “feel better” when we are around them. Studies have found that a coherent heart pattern or HRV is a robust measure of well-being and consistent with emotional states of calm and joy–that is, we exhibit such patterns when we feel positive emotions.
A coherent heart pattern is indicative of a system that can recover and adjust to stressful situations very efficiently. Often times, we only need to be in a horses presence to feel a sense of wellness and peace. In fact, research shows that people experience many physiological benefits while interacting with horses, including lowered blood pressure and heart rate, increased levels of beta-endorphins (neurotransmitters that serve as pain suppressors), decreased stress levels, reduced feelings of anger, hostility, tension and anxiety, improved social functioning; and increased feelings of empowerment, trust, patience and self-efficacy.”
The Soulful Component
Many lucky enough to be around horses found a soulful connection in early childhood that calls us to rekindle later in life. It is a familiar story in that we experience an unusual opening of the heart, but only when we are ready to listen. It is an entirely different kind of connection to these sentient beings that aids and deepens a human’s soulful alignment with the more significant part of life.
This dynamic effect isn’t limited to those who have had previous experience with horses.
Scientific studies are beginning to explain why this is possible. It is as if we get stuck in the analytic side of thought and inadvertently close ourselves off from the possibility of a deeper level of intuitive connection. Through physical proximity with horses in a natural environment, our heart rate and energetic balance begins to shift, opening us to more intuitive levels of awareness within ourselves.
We find moments when who we are is no longer separate but connected to all that is and it becomes a personal and transformational journey. We tap into the sanctuary of the heart and find the gateway to our own natural and unique rhythm, where we grow by identifying with our inner truths and learn from the gifts of listening within.
~ Barbara Alexander, Founder, Epona Ridge
Barbara offers training programs at Epona Ridge in Asheville, North Carolina as well as various locations worldwide. Contact Barbara
At Epona Ridge, our horses roam freely on the mountain. Our space together is an indoor Picadero designed with sacred geometry and large openings to the mountains in the distance. The horses have co-created with many people over the years through this sacred work at liberty. They always the choice to be present. Just Being with these sentient beings provides a sense of peace, like deep meditation and inner bliss.
Quieting the Mind
We have found a key component of this work is the skill to quiet the mind and open to the intuitive connection within. When you truly learn how to quiet your mind, you stop thought. When you stop thought, you find that you stop resistance to deeper wisdom. When you stop resistance, you are in a state of allowing clarity and inner guidance to flow as you move towards life in balance and genuine connection to others.
These special teachers have dramatically accelerated personal growth and have proven to be masters of empowerment, creativity, inspiration, and joy. It is a spiritual retreat that feeds the soul.