Who Started Equi-Soul?

Meet Amber Denis

I've had a passion for horses ever since I learned how to walk; which was with a Fisher Price horse! Growing up I always admired them and was drawn to them. It took me awhile to realize how important they were to me and how perceptive they truly are. I started pursuing my passion and love of horses on a more personal level at age 20 when I bought my first Quarter Horse Cheyenne. She has been my rock, my friend, my constant through the good and the bad. When I needed to regroup and re-evaluate my life I spent time with her. I learned a lot about myself with what she reflected back at me. 


I rescued another horse for a companion for Cheyenne and myself a few years later. Beau is a Thoroughbred who although he never raced on a track, he has the markings and tattoo of one. He was rescued after living a year in poor conditions leaving many scars and fears. We worked together through those traumatic memories and he is now living his best life with Cheyenne.

In the summer of 2020 we added Lilly to the herd. She came to us from Western Canada where she spent the first 4 years of her life with the Amish as a driving horse. She is currently resting and adjusting to herd life with Cheyenne and Beau. She will be going for training to learn how to be ridden and build her confidence.

Tucker is our newest herd member coming from Paris, Ontario area. He is new to EAL life, but ready to start his new career. He was generously donated by Kathleen Nickell who felt he needed a new purpose. Tucker is a very special boy who loves to be with people. 


My journey as a coach began back in 2015 when I discovered a course being held at Heavenly Acres in Brockville. I looked into the program and was immediately drawn to it; working with horses to help people. This sounded interesting. I contacted the instructors of Higher Trails who graciously let me volunteer for a day.


That day changed my life!

We spent the morning learning the difference between human communication and horse communication. Absolutely incredible information. The afternoon though was where the real magic happened. Ross MacInnes of Higher Trails (now EAL Canada) had me work through an exercise with one of the horses. It was about achieving a goal and identifying what was holding me back from it. Ross guided me through the exercise as I identified the roadblocks. Then he asked me to pick one of the roadblocks to overcome. Well wouldn’t you know it, that horse moved towards the one I was considering without me saying a word, walked up and knocked it right out of the way! That was so powerful as I’d never experienced anything like it before. It showed me the true power of horses. I went home that day charged with a new purpose in life and driven to become a coach. So I did! In 2016 I hosted a coach course at Lone Wolf Farm in Burritts Rapids and started working with clients shortly after.

In 2019 I added Facilitator to my title allowing me to work with corporate groups and events. I have my certification as an Equine Assisted Personal Development Coach and Facilitator, completed through Higher Trails and EAL Canada (www.highertrails.ca and www.ealcanada.com). With these certifications I can bring my love and passion for horses to people. Nothing gives me more hope and joy then having someone else experience the true empathy that horses can portray to us.


My husband and partner Terry was also certified as an EAPD coach in 2019. He primarily works with First Responders and Veterans as he has extensive personal experience as a firefighter for over 18 years. Terry and I have a sweet little boy Oliver who keeps us very busy, and we love it! We enjoy our time together as a family going on adventures, cooking and creating memories!

Shawnna Bilow

Ever since I can remember, I have been fascinated with horses. I was always reading about them, watching movies and videos about them, and I asked for one every year on Christmas and my birthdays (I was always extremely disappointed when my presents didn’t neigh). It wasn’t until I was 14 when I got my first hands on experience with these amazing creatures at a therapeutic riding facility down the road from my family home; that’s when I knew my one passion in life was to work with horses. Every day after school, I would ride my bike to the barn and spend countless hours simply just sitting with them, talking to them and I even fell asleep with them a couple of times - it was truly my happy place.  

After 4 patient years, right when I graduated high school, I felt as though I had gained enough knowledge and understanding of the horse world, and I bought my first Quarter Horse Oliver. Building that connection and relationship with my own horse quickly made me realize the impact these animals could have on us. 


During my time off after high-school, I continued to volunteer as a helper at the therapeutic riding facility, while figuring out my next steps to start my future. Here, I began working with children and adults of all ages. After just a few weeks, it was clear to me that my passion didn’t only lie with horses, but with children as well, so I decided to take the Child and Youth Care Program at St. Lawrence College.  

During college, I struggled finding possibilities to work hand in hand with horses and youth. I was beginning to lose hope in my dream, I thought I had made the wrong study choice, and I was worried about never finding the perfect job for me, but then I got introduced to Amber and Equi-Soul. She had mentioned that she was looking for a Child and Youth Care Practitioner to help as an associate. I almost jumped for joy! I quickly signed up for the associate course, and I immediately started helping Amber out in between my studies. It only took one day of being at Equi-Soul when it hit me - this is where I was meant to be, I had found my calling.  

Fast forward two years later, I am now a Child and Youth Care Practitioner and a coach at Equi-Soul! I work one on one with the children and youth in our community, helping to build confidence, self-esteem, leadership skills, and much more, all with the help and guidance of our equine partners!