Healing Horses: Mirrors To Your Soul
Rose Ashley has cultivated a partnership like no other, connecting the hearts of horses and humans for the common goal of restoration. She operates Swan Center Outreach in Castaic, a 501 (c) (3), as a way to restore the inner spirit of both man and beast.
Her long journey across the country has prepared her for the wisdom she imparts to the students and the care she provides to the horses. Beginning in Florida in her twenties she had two passions, helping people grow and communicating with animals. At that time, her philosophy was that our futures were laid out on a single track before us. “But then I realized there were multiple tracks we could be on, because we can derail ourselves, and I was fascinated by the process of jumping tracks; getting from the track you’re on to the one that actually takes you where you want to go. That’s when I started the ‘Inventing Your Life Workshop’ and took care of animals on the side.”
The move to Atlanta, Georgia, several years later was the start of putting the two passions together. She opened the Swan Center for Intuitive Living and purchased acreage just outside of town. This allowed her to help the humans find their purpose while rescuing horses and dogs that had been abused and/or neglected. “I nurtured the horses back to emotional health and started training the dogs. I noticed when I trained people with the dogs, to get them ready to go home with their adopted human, the success rate in the human’s personal life exploded. That’s when I got the idea to combine the workshop with the rescued horses.”
Rose instructed the workshop participants to maneuver the horses through a series of exercises and obstacle courses to teach leadership, goal-setting and goal-keeping in adversity, energy vs. force, and positive connections with those we live and work with. “Not only are the horses willing participants, but they are keenly aware of the emotions of the human handler; a by-product of their own sordid past.
“Horses are wonderful mirrors to the energy we put out and how it affects the people around us. That’s why this partnership works so well. The horses teach the humans self-awareness, well-being, and confidence.”
In Georgia, the program grew into team building clinics, workshops, and specialty clinics for the disabled and abused. “The horses are intuitive and can sense what is going on inside you; many of the horses will adjust to the needs of a disabled person but will stop in their tracks for an angry able-bodied person. They just won’t move until the person calms down. More often than not, it takes the horse to reflect that anger isn’t an initiator, it’s a turn-off. The person has no idea they are putting out so much negative energy until a horse refuses to cooperate with them. It’s humbling.” After twenty years, Rose developed health issues and it was recommended she move away from the humidity to the mountains, so she and 35 of her horses made the trek Colorado.
The program attracted corporations like Cisco Systems, UPS, and The Keystone Center along with many small companies. From the website, “A team of people and a herd of horses have a lot in common. They both require strong leadership, clear consistent communication, a keen awareness of the needs and goals of the entire group, and a motivational strategy to achieve them.
“Horses communicate in three ways – vocally, through body language, and by energetic exchanges, with the emphasis being on energetic exchanges. Humans communicate to each other in exactly the same ways, but the emphasis tends to be placed on vocal communications and body language, with little or no recognition of [the energy we are projecting]. This tendency puts us at a great disadvantage, because most of our decisions and interactions with others are based on how we feel, rather than on what we see or hear.
“Horses are capable of teaching us a great deal about ourselves, and the effect we have on the teams we live with and work with. They serve as mirrors to our soul, because they are masters of observation, and have no hidden agendas.”
After ten years, Rose’s health problems returned and it was again recommended she move, this time to a lower altitude with a drier climate. So, she and her horses and youngest daughter made the trek west to Castaic in 2016.
Today she conducts the Inventing Your Life seminars, the Spirituality & Horses workshops, Leadership and Team Building with Horses, and any individual sessions based on need. “My passion is still to help clients fulfill their purpose, discover their God-given talents, and raise the level of awareness in their interactions with those around them. It’s important to be on the track that will get you to your goal and I facilitate that process with the horses.
“We are in great need of volunteers, both physical and financial. Volunteers make the programs possible. We also offer work study programs which allows a person to work in exchange for tuition cost.” Information about volunteering, donating, or attending a program can be found at www.Swancenter.org