Hi there, I'm Sonia, a Masters prepared RN with 20 years of leadership experience. My career has been focused on systems level leadership through building strong dynamic and collaborative teams.
Although I have many years of experience and advanced training in leadership, I credit my 30 years of partnering with horses to my overall success as a leader. I recently combined my corporate and equine leadership experience to create a unique leadership training method which relies on partnering with horses as a living example of collaborative and healthy team dynamics.
Horses are intuitive and energetic beings capable of feeling the energy of those around them which provides immediate feedback to the participants on how they are connecting and leading in the moment. If it's personal growth or leadership skill development you are after, I can help!
Barney is a 28 year old Thoroughbred Paint and our "main man". He is the largest horse in the herd, but don't let his size intimidate you, he has the biggest heart of them all and loves everyone he meets.
His teaching is leadership through compassion. Often, we are taught that being kind, soft, and compassionate is a weakness, but it won't take long in Barney's presence to realize there is a lot of strength behind compassion.
He knows how to lead through clear enforcement of boundaries, but does not take his assertiveness any farther than needed to accomplish the task, and is always looking out for the members of his herd.
One day when I was out in the field with the horses someone set off fireworks. He turned to run but paused, looked back at me, and realized I wasn't following. He quickly turned around and stood between me and the fireworks (I was inching forward hoping for another glimpse as I love fireworks!) and started to gently push me uphill and away from danger! I can hear him now: "Stupid human, you'll get yourself killed! Ugh."
Sofie is our 18 year old Thoroughbred Mare who is a master teacher at boundaries and sticking to the rules to keep everyone safe and healthy.
Contrary to popular belief it isn't the alpha male that leads the charge, but the lead mare. Whenever there is somewhere to go, you will find her making the call and setting the pace. They all look to her for direction, and she takes her job seriously.
I remember a time when another horse in the herd was struggling with respecting boundaries. The herd was working with him to help him learn the rules of the team, and this was a challenge for him. During this period of time, I had approached the gate carrying a load of hay in my arms. He pushed me into the fence, knocking me down, causing me to toss the hay into the mud and the gate flung open where he galloped through, kicking out at me as he passed as if to say "you can't stop me! I'm Freeeee!" Needless to say....I was not a happy camper.
After that encounter, when I approached the gate I would stand patiently and wait for him to give me space before opening it. Sophie saw what was happening and quickly crossed the pasture towards us and intervened to push him away. She even went so far as to continue to drive him back, not even allowing him to look in my direction until I was safely through the gate. It was like an "I got you" nod from her to me.
Safety and order are the name of the game for Sophie as this ensures the health and longevity of the herd, and she takes her job seriously as the herd relies on her to see them through.
Rio is a 23 year old Quarter Horse who came to the herd just over a year ago. He is sweet, calm, grounding, and has very little interest in drama. He'd much rather keep to himself, but when he does bond with someone, it is a deep and caring kinship that forms.
He's so laid back that the barn cats will climb his tail and take naps on his back!
Rio likes calm, balance, and orderly conduct. If someone gets out of line, he'll remind them to keep it between the lines and then quickly returns to what he's doing, far away from drama. If there are two horses working out a disagreement, he steers clear unless there's a need for him to provide support to one side or the other - but he will only intervene to restore balance, not to escalate drama.
Rio is an example of the calm and grounded nature we need as leaders when faced with the heightened energy that can come from passionate disagreements which inevitably occur about one topic or the other. It's our job as leaders to stay balanced, grounded and calm; not taking sides, but helping to maintain order and resolve the conflict to a level that is fair and in congruence with the rules of the herd dynamic.
Hank is the newest member of the herd having only joined us a few months ago. He is an excellent teacher at showing up calm, grounded and congruent.
Horses, like people, don't always trust you right out of the gate. They have to see congruency between your words and your actions. They need to know you will show up the same way every time, and they need to be able to have some confidence around their expectations and the alignment of those expectations to the reality of who you are as a leader.
Hank has the sweetest nature. He will whinny when he sees you and come running to the gate to say hello! However, due to his sensitive nature, if you are not showing up congruent and fully grounded he will let you know right away and will turn away from you, not trusting your next move. He needs to feel safe as I believe we all do before engaging with you.
A great lesson for us as leaders to monitor our energy and how we show up in the space we occupy.
Our goat girls are Boer Saanen cross milk goats and the entertainment on the farm! These two wonderful ladies provide so much love and humor they often steal the show! They never turn down treats or scritches and will put anything and EVERYTHING in their mouth - typically items we don't want them to eat such as fencing, plastic ties, signs, gloves, zippers, hoses....you name it...in the mouth it goes! It's like having a 2 year old around. "NO! Don't eat that!.... What's in your mouth now!?!"
They are endless entertainment and so much fun to watch romp and play and will try to get you involved in the action as well. Just keep a keen eye on anything you don't want them to taste test!
Our barn cats are far from standoffish. In an attempt to gentle them to human interaction we may have overshot the mark as they LOVE to sit in any lap they can find quickly! They are very entertaining and love pets and snuggles. If you are not a cat person, simply let me know and I can ensure they don't disturb you as they can be persistent!
However if you ARE a cat person....you're in luck!
PS - keep car doors and windows closed as you may have a hitchhiker! like I said, they're not shy.....
Our chickens provide us with eggs and hours of entertainment.
Did you know that hens have an "egg song" they sing when they lay? Did you also know that when the hen that is laying begins her song, the other hens join in as the cheer squad!? It's like having a whole flock of doulas EVERY DAY! Man, if you think roosters are loud...hang around awhile! They get pretty EGGcited! (see what I did there...I'm just yOLk-ing it up 😂)
"Come on HENrietta! You got this!"
There's something to be said for cheering on your friends and team mates when they go through something challenging, but every day for every hen?! Oof.
The Spirit2Spirit grounds are located on 11 acres in Stanwood, WA. There is a 7 stall barn, 9 pastures, and a wooded grove in the back corner.
With abundant fruit trees and beautiful sunrises and sunsets, you rarely have a bad view from any corner. The entire property is a very peaceful oasis which can accommodate Just about any event!
The property boasts a 7 stall barn with runs attached to each stall, tack room, heated wash rack, and water plumbed to each stall. The extra-large stalls and access to runs and abundant pasture make for very comfortable living conditions for our equine partners.
Even with such lavish accommodations we prefer to "let horses be horses" and provide pasture turn-out at every opportunity!
If you have spent any time in the Pacific Northwest you know it can rain here once in a while, so the covered arena is one of the most important features of the property! Riding Lessons, clinics, classes, retreats, 1 on 1 coaching all happen in the arena now and again.
It's nice to know we don't need to cancel an event on account of the weather!
The orchard not only provides abundant fruit in the fall, but a beautiful outdoor venue for weddings, events, parties, and photoshoots all year round!
The private home on the grounds is also available for indoor events, hosting groups, weddings, meetings, therapy or coaching sessions, energy healing, and corporate retreats. There is a large formal living room with easily re-configured décor, a formal dining room which can be easily set up as a board room with projection capabilities, an office large enough for therapy or healing sessions as well as small intimate meetings, a large kitchen, back and side yards and guest rooms which can provide for wedding and event support.