Possibilities Farm: Finding Humans’ Best Potential in Partnership with Horses
Wilton resident Carrie Brady fell in love with horses when she was just four years old. Riding lessons and horse camp were a mainstay of her childhood so when it came time to think about a job, she devoured books on careers for horse lovers. The options–horse trainer, breeder, jockey, riding instructor–weren’t quite the right fit, so she chose to pursue other career options.
Years later, while working as a healthcare executive and consultant, Brady discovered that an entirely new field of equine professionals was developing called Equine Facilitated Learning, in which facilitators partnered with horses to create incredible breakthroughs for humans. She started reading everything she could find about this new field and learned that Stanford University and other medical schools had started to use horses to train physicians to build essential professional skills, including teamwork and nonverbal communication.
The proverbial lightbulb went off; her professional expertise and passion for horses were related. She began to shape her dream to build a horse farm on which people could learn to let go of their paralyzing self-doubt, find mindfulness, and access untapped potential. In September 2016, Brady realized that dream, when she opened the doors of Possibilities Farm as a unique sanctuary in Wilton where clients partner with horses to achieve self-growth.
She named the enterprise ‘Possibilities Farm’ because she wants people to discover their unique strengths and gifts and to see new possibilities in themselves and in any situation. The horses, she says, are key to facilitating this. “It’s a privilege to partner with the horses and to see the impact they have on clients,” says Brady.
“One of the greatest gifts of horses is that they see you in a different way than people do,” she explains. “Horses see through your words. They can feel your heart rate and your respiration. They know when you are scared and when you are calm. They also know when you are feeling one way and acting another. They don’t judge you or infer future behavior based on your past. They see all the possibilities in you in every moment.”
Brady draws upon her vast and diverse experience as a seasoned facilitator, corporate executive, and reiki master, as well as her training from the Equine Experiential Education Association (E3A) and the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH) in the development of the equine-facilitated learning at Possibilities Farm.
The Life You’ve Imagined Workshops are designed to help clients create a life they love. Presented as group sessions, half day retreats, and private sessions by appointment, each course thoughtfully highlights aspects of horse wisdom that helps human live a more vibrant life. Swing Open the Gates (January 9) for example, focuses on setting a direction and opening any gates between you and where you want to go. Brady explains, “Horses will frequently test the gates to see if they are actually locked or if they can simply push them open and walk right through. Humans on the other hand, tend to see gates as roadblocks rather than passageways and often forget to test them.”
Other workshops this year include but are not limited to: Manure Management for the Mind (March 13), which helps clients let go of limiting beliefs and transforms potentially toxic thoughts into “fertilizer” for growth; and Return to Grazing (June 12), which focuses on being in the present and returning to peace, even when faced with stressful situations. “As prey animals, horses are tuned into their environment, but they are also masters at conserving their energy. They don’t waste time on the future or in the past; they live in the immediate present. Learning to go back to grazing every day helps humans bring the best of ourselves to any situation.”
Debby Stein found Possibilities Farm after the sudden death of her mother. Her shock and grief consumed her–meditation, walks, and work were of some help, but she still felt completely broken. Then, Stein participated in several programs at Possibilities Farm.
“The most important thing I have learned from the horses and have taken forward in my life is to try and live in the present. Sure, we have pleasant and painful memories, but the more I live in the moment, the better I feel and the more I notice the magic in life. The horses live their lives this way; they react to danger and when it’s over, they are back to their calm selves immediately,” she explains.
Stein gained insights like these through participating in Possibilities Farm’s Equine-Assisted Meditation and Energy Work Programs that aim to restore body, mind, and spirit. In these programs, Brady leads Horse Wisdom Circles, which are small group meditation sessions conducted in the paddock with the horses; the horses are able to choose how and with whom they interact.
In her first introduction to Potato (chief equine officer or CEO) and Magical Mere (VP of wisdom and wonder) in one such circle, Stein was amazed by their ability to “tune-in” and immediately pinpoint what was going on with her. Potato let Stein know she was capable of letting go of her grief by continuously knocking a rock with the word “grief” written on it out of her hands (others were carrying rocks with words on them, but he didn’t touch their rocks).
(Miniature horse Paddington, director of laughter and joy, rounds out the three equine members of Possibilities Farm.)
Most of the Meditation and Energy Work Programs are offered several times throughout 2018 and also include Energy Circles/Reiki Share, which include a guided meditation in which participants give and receive positive energy in partnership with the horses; and Equine-Assisted Reiki sessions, in which participants lie on a heated massage table in the barn while Brady and the horses share reiki energy. The horses provide guidance throughout the session and promote profound relaxation and renewal.
Reiki Certification Programs are also available at the Farm and are offered in conjunction with reiki master Beth Leas.
As Brady reflects on her first year, she is humbled by the community’s response and the stories shared by clients about what the farm has meant to them and the challenges it has helped them through.
“I’ve always believed I could create a life doing what I love, but I am living a life even better than I dreamed.” She continues, “One of my favorite times of day is right before I go to bed. I take the dogs out and check the horses to make sure they are comfortable for the night. Horses don’t sleep at night like we do. As prey animals, they only take a few naps a day, often standing up. So, when I go out at night, the horses are usually munching hay peacefully under the stars and I just stand there with them feeling immense gratitude.”