We had the good fortune of connecting with Janice Story and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Janice, how does your business help the community?
I feel very blessed that every day I am given a great opportunity to be able to help people reconnect with themselves. It’s truly heartbreaking to know that so many people are struggling lately with anxiety, depression, addiction, and loneliness just to name a few. There has been so much isolation and loss of connection between each other, and our communities, but mostly the disconnection within our own selves, often leaving us feeling helpless.

Through my Equine Assisted Coaching sessions, the horses are able to provide the clients a very safe and sacred space in which they can reconnect with themselves. The process of working with the horses often times will penetrate through tough walls and open up new pathways of hope, allowing opportunities for expansion, transformation and growth.

I have found Equine Assisted Therapy to be instrumental in supporting others in their healing of addiction, grief, loss, anxiety, trauma, PTSD, abuse, and so much more, including their everyday struggles with life. The horses are also amazing at helping others become empowered, learn boundaries, confidence, self worth, and in many cases sometimes helping them discover new directions or paths that they may not have otherwise taken, allowing them to follow new dreams, and achieve new goals..

I have spent many years witnessing just how amazing the healing and transformations that occurred with so many different people including children, teens, adults, and many with physical, mental, psychological and social challenges.
This gave me a huge desire to train others to become Equine Assisted Coaches, and last year a dear friend of mine -Diana Gogan and I founded The Freedom Way Equine Assisted Coaching Certification course. We now have coaches trained in Arizona as well as Missouri and Utah.

It’s an amazing experience when someone places trust in you and a thousand pound animal to create a safe space for them in order to help them heal or shift their lives. Together, with our equine partners we can help change the world.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Equine Assisted coaching provides you with insight into your own state of well being and where you are at in the present moment. Horses have an extraordinary was of acting as a mirror, reflecting back to us endless opportunities for growth and expansion, by the way they react to our energy and intention. No matter where you are at in your life the horses always have something to offer, and can help you through life’s challenges. And even if you aren’t struggling, working with horses is a beautiful and natural process to help you find your own way into the journey of discovering your true authentic self.

I think what really sets my work apart from others in the Equine Therapy field is that my horses are truly my partners, not just a “tool”, and I intuitively allow them to lead the sessions. When you get out of a horse’s way and let them do their job, they can often help create an absolutely magical experience for people. It seems that many other methods of Equine Therapy have a very scripted and specific approach. For example on day one of therapy it may be suggested for the client to learn about herd behavior or leadership, so there is already a preset agenda. When you drop the agenda, the horses are able to naturally sense what is going on with the client and reflect back to them what it is they really need to hear or work on.

I recently had a client referred to me that had lost her husband. The horse she spent time with picked up on her grief and sadness and really showed her the most purest form of unconditional love. She was able to just lean into the horse and allow her feelings and emotions to flow through her in a safe and supportive space. She didn’t quite understand what had happened, but stated it was such a magical experience and she really felt “loved”, something she thought she would never be able to feel again. It gave her a new sense of hope and a desire to keep moving forward. If I had started the session with my own agenda of what I thought or wanted the client to work on, she might not have had the amazing experience that she did.

I think what excites me the most is being able to share the wisdom from the horses with others and being able to witness the insights and clarity that people gain while working with them. And now through The Freedom Way, we are sharing our knowledge and training others in the field of Equine Assisted Coaching. Our certification course is designed for anyone even if they have no prior horse experience or even own a horse, as we teach them basic horsemanship and how to partner with others that have horses. The lady mentioned above is currently a student in our course, graduating next month and is seeing clients now! She has found a new sense of purpose in her life helping others through her own experiences, and a year ago she had never even been around horses at all.

My own journey of where I am today was filled with so many challenges and obstacles, low self esteem, doubts and feelings of unworthiness. My life seemed to be an endless event of trauma or tragedy one after another. I spent most of my life learning to survive and always felt like I had to prove myself to others. The horses have always been a huge part of my own healing, and after going through my own battle with PTSD, I realized just how powerful they are. I knew I really wanted to help others, but didn’t have the confidence or the ability to utilize my voice. Thankfully I have an amazing community of mentors, friends, and teachers that have helped me find that confidence and I have been able to step into a life and career that I love helping to support others in such an amazing way.

I think one of the greatest lessons that I have learned is to find some kind of value in the experiences I’ve gone through. It’s not always easy, but I am now thankful for everything that I have faced during my life, yes, even the horrific things. I now am able to use the knowledge and wisdom I’ve gained through my experiences to assist others in their own healing. I’ve also learned the importance of self care and self love, you cannot be of service to others if you don’t take care of you first And I believe one of the most important lessons in my business was realizing and learning that I am not responsible for and I cannot fix someone. We don’t need others to “fix” us, most of the times we just need someone to walk beside us, and support us in finding our own way. I am so very blessed that I get to do exactly that! My horses and I have the privilege of walking beside others, accompanying them on their own journeys of discovering who they are.

I am so grateful to all of the people in my life that have walked beside me.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Usually when someone comes to visit me, they are wanting to get away from a cold climate, and come to Arizona to spend time outdoors in the sun. One of my favorite places to take them is always Sedona for a few days. The views of the red rock cliffs are just incredible, and the hiking is amazing. There is so much to see and do there. If we don’t go hiking we may visit the many shops and galleries in the tlaquepaque square, as well as a stop for lunch. Boynton Canyon, Fay Canyon, and Oak Creek are a few of my favorite places to hike. I cannot make a trip to Sedona without visiting Red Rock State park and Buddha Beach, having a picnic lunch by the creek.

After a few days in Sedona I would love to take them to see Kartchner caverns just outside of Benson, Arizona. The caves are spectacular and always a hit with our winter visitors. The magnificent natural formations like “Kubla Khan” literally takes your breath away, as you sit there in silence and awe just staring at its beauty with that childlike wonder.

The rest of the time we would just hang out here on the ranch relaxing and go for a few trail rides. I am located by the Cave Creek Regional Park, and have access to many different beautiful trails right in my back yard. We raise our own beef, so most of our meals would be cooked here enjoying the grilling of burgers or steaks.If we did venture out for a meal, it would most likely be a local restaurant like Chili’s, Brisam’s, or Barro’s Pizza..

And of course a trip to Arizona would not be complete without visiting our iconic town of Cave Creek exploring the many different shops and the little authentic western looking Frontier Town. I’m sure the day would also include breakfast or lunch at Harold’s and possibly dancing in the evening at the Buffalo Chip saloon.

By now I’m sure I would be telling my friend that they need to stay a few more days!!

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I am very grateful for the support from my husband Kent, my son Dustin, my friends, Lynn Mcdowell and Mike Dando. And I have been very blessed by the friendships and and ongoing support of some great mentors/teachers that have encouraged me and helped me in so many different ways, including Sunny Dawn Johnston, Kate Shipp, Melissa Corter, and Diana Gogan.

Website: www.janicestory.com. www.freedomwayequinecoaching.com

Instagram: janice.story.3

Facebook: Janice Story

Image Credits
Melissa Corter

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutArizona is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.