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, training workshops, 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.
Apprenticing for two years with Linda Kohanov, a best-selling author and pioneer of human development through experiential learning with horses, I became an Eponaquest Worldwide facilitator. Combined with 20 years in the corporate leadership environment, I discovered the missing link of energy dynamics and how individuals affect the connectivity of all beings in the office and home. Traditional team building and leadership training had missed vital interpersonal skills critical in a healthy culture.
Over the last decade, I have collaborated with Frederic Pignon and Magali Delgado, two of the world's finest horse trainers, to develop a holistic approach to personal development with all sentient beings. Through work together, we have combined the co-creative aspects of horsemanship in connection with equine facilitated learning in the human field of intuitive, emotional, and physical intelligence.
I have discovered some of the most exciting advances through this work as I continue to develop the psychology of energy, interconnectedness, and personal joy.
I am also Reiki Master Healer and Teacher having trained in Hong Kong and then the US since 1995. Find out more about Reiki Certification and upcoming retreats.
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.
Introverted employees who don't know how to modulate their energy in a group of extroverts find that their contributions go unheard, which leads to job dissatisfaction.
Through various exercises and discussions, participants of experiential learning discover how to modulate their personal 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
“When does a clinic end up being a profound, life changing experience? I talk with Barbara Alexander who organized a clinic with Frederic & Magali Pignon that I attended. I thought I was going there to learn liberty training and okay, some “leadership” exercises. I got a bit more than I expected! Barbara and I talk about how horses can teach and facilitate finding our way to joy. This isn’t a “woo woo” thing and it wasn’t all pixie dust and unicorns (although Frederic and Magali’s horses are quite magical!). We talk about boundaries, leadership, and being tuned in to ourselves. And for those of us who are riders, the exercises had the added benefit of being very aware of your horse’s body language, how the two of you communicate non-verbally, and how those work (or don’t work!).”
Click on the video to see Betsy’s interview: UNDER THE FORELOCK