Writer: McCale Ashenbrener
Photos: Heather James
As a kid Amy Hublou inherited an old roping horse that she named Mork. “This horse was my medicine; he was my friend and the barn was my safe place. I always felt more connected and grounded after spending time there.” After Hublou graduated with a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology and was working with kids in the foster car system, she remembers wishing she could take them to the barn and offer them the experience of connection she once had with horses. So, in 2003 she jumped on the opportunity to incorporate horses into her therapy practice and now specializes in Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP).
Whether addressing mental or emotional issues, EAP helps accelerate the therapeutic process due to its experiential nature. It “takes therapy from the proverbial ‘couch’ to the barn,” says Hublou. “Instead of just ‘talking’ about issues hypothetically, clients act it out in real time and receive immediate feedback from the horse, helping to identify patterns, behaviors and recognize self-talk.”
In 2010 Hublou partnered with two colleagues to found Gallop Ventures, “an innovative nature-based program of self-discovery that leverages the sensitive perceptions and unbiased instinct of horses to empower humans to learn and grow.” The mission is simple, to connect people with nature and animals for the purpose of deeper awareness and more meaningful connection to self and others.
Horses teach us to live in the present. “They are prey animals and their very survival depends on their ability to read and react to their environment and the intentions of those around them,” Hublou explains. “They either feel safe or they don’t and they take care of themselves first and foremost.” Humans, on the other hand, can become easily entrenched in the mind and become disconnected from the body and the moment. “My clients often talk about anxiety, doubt, fear….but these sensations, these beliefs…they are a construct of the mind. The truth is that your brain does not inform your body. It is your body that informs your brain. And if we can step out of the noise of our mind and tune in more deeply to our body then we will hear our inner wisdom and find our direction.”
Gallop Ventures strives to provide the space and guidance for people to slow down, settle into the present, and connect with their true selves. Through the subtle interaction with horses, people are able to see more clearly who they are, how they interact with others, and reflect on where they want to go. “They have the power to help people recognize and change the way they are showing up in the world,” according to co-founder Wendy Millet.
Due to Hublou’s love of horses and passion for the transformative and therapeutic potential they provide, she and her husband Scott built their dream barn over this past year. “Our hope was to create a nurturing and healing space for our family and friends to come together. We named our little homestead JEM Family Farm, after our three kids, Jake, Emerson and Maclaine.” Along with cultivating truffle trees, learning how to distill lavender, figuring out how to enrich the soil through composting, and growing healthy food, they also care for 6 horses, 4 goats, 13 chickens and 1 turkey. Hublou has learned through this journey that it takes much hard work to care for their animals, the land, and each other, and In the process she has also found more presence, purpose and power within herself.