The Equus Effect approach to Experiential Learning and Coaching includes engagement with horses that focuses on the body’s natural response to chronic stress and trauma. We believe, as do experts in the field of neurobiology and trauma, that our reactions to traumatic events and stress remain in the nervous system until they are metabolized and discharged.
Somatic Experiencing (SE), is the foundation and basis of the exercises we teach. Developed by Peter Levine, Ph.D., it is the result of the multidisciplinary study of stress physiology, psychology, ethology, biology, neuroscience, indigenous healing practices, and medical biophysics. With more than 45 years of successful clinical application, this approach to the restoration of balance and well-being to the nervous system is gaining awareness and recognition by leaders in the fields of psychology and medicine.
Our didactic material, the reflective aspects of our work with horses and ground-based natural horsemanship techniques, help participants regain agency and emotional agility. We focus on restoring nervous system regulation. It is a body-oriented model that helps heal trauma and chronic stress from the bottom up — and from the inside out.
We do not focus on ‘treatment goals’. Rather, the specific aim of our work is to help individuals from all walks of life uncover and dissolve barriers that live on in their systems long after they return to their homes and communities.
The Equus Effect has graduated over 1800 men and women from the VA Healthcare System, Vet Centers, Treatment Centers, Law Enforcement Agencies and Hospitals in Connecticut, New York, Maryland, Massachusetts, North Carolina and Washington State through the four-session curriculum since 2012. ©
No horse experience necessary.
For more information on the founders please visit their website:
I grew up on a lovely old farm, riding ponies and horses from an early age, following in the footsteps of my mother who was an avid horsewoman. My childhood and adolescence was shot-through with the pleasures, challenges, and sometimes trauma that goes along with horseback riding. I remember being galloped off with by mischievous ponies, sometimes scraped out of the saddle by low hanging trees. There was a gift and wound in these early beginnings. I learned to “bounce” and become resilient, stuffing any feelings of fear and ambivalence. With help, I trained two young horses and competed through the Intermediate level in the sport of 3 Day Eventing, winning the North American Junior Championships in 1979 under the fierce and talented guidance of an Olympic gold medalist coach. Yet it was not until many years later, after taking a ten year break from horses altogether, learning about who I was outside of horses (school, work, relationships), and doing a good bit of therapy myself, that I recognized the buried truths inside my body. I returned full-circle to horses and found the field of therapeutic horseback riding, in which I’ve worked the past twenty four years. When I met Leslie in the fall of 2020, she told me about The Equus Effect. I was smitten by its grounded, relational, body-based, emotionally sophisticated approach. We took the nine month training together... Fast forward a year, and here we are!
I cannot imagine a greater privilege than to partner with Leslie and coach The Equus Effect together at her beautiful Kairos Spring Farm. Her four horses are truly exceptional beings. Kind, sensitive, and attuned beyond measure, Leslie’s horses are our true teachers, partners
MA expressive art therapy, 1990
MA certified riding instructor, 2012 to present
PATH Intl certified therapeutic riding instructor, 2013 to present
Certified Facilitator of The Equus Effect, 2022
First Aid/CPR Certified
From the time I can remember, horses have captivated me; their raw power, dramatic beauty and gentle and wise sensitivity. My youth was spent knocking on the doors of horse-owning neighbors to see if they might allow me the opportunity to engage with their horses. At 13 my dream of horse ownership came true when a college-bound teen declared me the most worthy to inherit her wonderful bay pony, Pollyanna.
A Masters in Music, busy performance schedule, marriage, a corporate career in the medical industry, four children, and a few other life events caused a necessary long hiatus from horse activity, but when a friend needed help with 3 rescue horses, including a 9-month old colt, my life took up the horse thread with new vigor. I spent the next 15 years rescuing and rehabilitating cast-off horses, finding a particular draw toward horses with "behavioral issues" - as these misunderstood souls provided me with my greatest education in listening and becoming acutely aware of the subtle messages these magnificent creatures convey. After witnessing the healing that a hurt and mistrusting horse could attain by my simply "being" with them in a "no-agenda" (as Joe Camp calls it) manner, and in kind, the grounding and sense of calm I would enjoy as a result, I recognized a powerful phenomenon which Linda Kohanov calls "the wisdom of the prey". I knew I had a unique opportunity to share these incredible partners with others.
Jane Strong and David Sonatore's carefully cultivated curriculum in The Equus Effect was a perfect match with the kind of respectful collaboration I was looking for as a method of helping individuals process the stresses of life and learn to live with more awareness, presence, agency and joy with the assistance of gifts that horses have to offer.
MM Music Performance 1993
Recovery Coach 2022
Certified Facilitator of The Equus Effect 2022
First Aid/CPR Certified
Safe Sport Certified
An 12-year-old 17 hand Andalusian Thoroughbred Mare. She came to us as a reactive and anxious 8 year old, but with the kindest and most sensitive soul you could ever dream of. Her desire to connect is captivating .
A 7-year old, 15.3 hand Morgan mare who sparkles with confidence and athleticism. She came here as an 11-month old filly - full of exuberance, and continues to enjoy her daily gallops around the pasture.
Rescued from a hoarding situation as a 3 year old, this now 14 year old Lippett Morgan gelding packs power and brilliance in his 14.2 hand body. But his greatest gift is his intuitive wisdom which never fails to draw hearts to him.
A 30-year-old thoroughbred who was raced in Canada until he was 8, then rescued from a meat buyer at auction, this guy doesn't know he's "old". He is the ultimate gentleman, but still has an impressive buck when he "gets his gallop on".
The land on which Kairos Spring Farm rests, has served agricultural purposes for centuries. The parsonage/farm for the Methodist Church, built by the Gleason brothers, once stood here and a few decades ago was a large chicken farm. Evidence of some of the old structures still remains. We are honored to tend this beautiful land with sustainable farming practices - planting native species, fertilizing with responsibly hot-composted manure, and reducing pests with natural predators.