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 and the herd.

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 has recently received a few months of training to learn how to be ridden. She is such a smart girl and has enjoyed the new challenges of accepting a rider and what that means for her role with her new skills. She is not for beginners as she will need more time to adjust, but she is very willing to put in the time.

Titan came to Equi-Soul in October 2021. His history includes starting his life with the Mennonites in Southern Ontario pulling wagons and carts, to becoming a lesson and trail horse. He was used in a previous EAL program working with kids camps and soaking up all the love! He is strong and mighty, but also a big softie and happy to follow wherever you lead. If you're looking for connection, he's your guy!

Oliver joined our team in December 2021. He is owned by our coach Shawnna who works with our children clients that come to us. Oliver worked previously in a therapeutic riding program. He's one of the first ones to greet you in the field and is always happy to be brushed and fussed over. He has a reputation for being one of the lazier horses on the team (hahaha!)

Cooper is another one of our rescues who came to us in March 2022. He is a beautiful soul who put in his time as a lesson horse for many years. He had health problems which led him to have sore feet and not be able to walk comfortably. He is currently recovering and enjoying his downtime being a horse with the herd while he heals. He enjoys being loved on by his people and taking naps in the sunshine!

Our last addition comes to us from Edmonton, Alberta area. Rhea is our sweet Appaloosa mare retired from a lesson program. She joined the team in May 2022 and has been so sweet since day one. She loves connecting with people and her favorite thing is to be brushed! She will stand for hours to be brushed and fussed over! 

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!

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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!         

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