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

Hi Michelle, can you share a quote or affirmation with us?
“Horses bring us back to simplicity so we can process the complexities of our lives.” This is one of my favorite quotes partly because it is my own quote. I was in my graduate program, on my way to earning my Master’s of Art degree in Counseling/psychology with the concentration of Equine-Assisted Mental Health. I have always had a deep passion for horses and they have been an integral part of my life since childhood. As part of my studies at Prescott College, I had to attend 4 “Intensives” which were part of learning about Equine-Assisted Mental Health. I was required to stay at the ranch where myself and my fellow cohorts spent 4 days immersing ourselves in Equine-Assisted activities to help us learn how to facilitate Equine-Assisted activities and to experience first hand the profound healing powers of horses. I came up with this quote at the end of the first intensive at the closing circle. The closing circle was a place where we all came together to process the previous 4 days worth of work and to add closure to our experiences with each other as most of my cohorts were from different areas of the US. It was at this closing circle that our instructors and mentors posed the question, “Why work with horses rather than other therapeutic animals such as dogs?’ Each one of my cohorts took turns answering this question. I do not remember all what I said about why I chose to work with horses, however I remember talking about the power of horses in my personal life and how they had saved my life many times both mentally and physically. I went on to share some of my personal experiences with horses and how those experiences will help me in the future as an Equine-Assisted Mental Health professional. Somewhere in my explanation, I said this quote. I was not aware of what I had said until the closing circle was finished and a cohort of mine came up to me and said “Can I write down your quote?” I looked at her and said, “Sure. But what did I say?” When she told me about the quote she wanted to write down, I knew instantly this is exactly how I feel about horses and how this quote has played into my professional career to this day as a professional Horse Guided Coach. This quote sums up exactly how I can help people who are struggling with anxiety, depression, and traumas in their daily lives. This quote is how horses help people “unwind” their patterns into more simplistic pieces so they can start to process the complexities of their life. Our lives are only complicated because we chose to make them complicated, however if we do not know how to make things more simplistic, then we can become stuck in our life. It is through Horse Guided Coaching where a person can learn how to be more simplistic and start moving forward rather than being stuck in the complexities of their life. And that is the power of horses to help humans, learn, grow, and heal.

What should our readers know about your business?
I have always had a passion for horses. Ever since I was a little girl. As I grew up I knew that I wanted to do something with horses professionally but was unsure as to what to do. I went to work for a local stables and the owner, who was the trainer, became my mentor as I had a young horse who was not broke to ride at the time. He took me “under his wing” and taught me about how to teach horses how to carry a rider. It was at this time in my life I realized I wanted to become a horse trainer and riding instructor. I earned my Bachelor of Science from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls in Equine Science and a minor in small business. I had already been working with local horse owners and helping them train and work with their horses. Shortly after I graduated I moved to Arizona and within a year and a half had my own small “farm” where I was teaching riding lessons. It became clear very soon that I needed a larger facility and so purchased a 2 and 1/2 piece of property where I developed my full service boarding, lessons, and training stables. I was there for 8 eight years and learned a lot of how to run a business well, improve my skills as a professional horse back riding instructor and trainer and the general management of a working horse facility. It was demanding work, but I loved it so. Then life through some personal changes at me such as my divorce and economic changes and I was facing the fact that “riding lessons were now a luxury item and not a necessity item.” And I had to be able to put food on the table and a roof over my head. I learned about equine-assisted therapies from a former student of mine who was a licensed social worker for a local school. She introduced me to equine-assisted therapies at a clinic in southern Arizona and I was hooked! I knew this was my calling. This is what I had been working for all my life. So I applied to Prescott College and 3 years later graduated with a Master’s of Art degree in counseling/psychology in the field of Equine-Assisted Mental Health. I then started Spirit Mountain Healing Center to be able to offer equine-assisted therapies to those who struggle with anxiety, depression, and traumas. As I have gone on this journey, I came up with Horse-Guided Coaching because that is exactly what I do to be able to help people through working with horses. I have been able to combine my 35 years of working with horses and people into an incredible, individualized, and very powerful way to be able to help people learn to live more authentically through Horse Guided Coaching. My journey to this point has not been easy. I have had many set backs both personally and professionally and I had to learn many things “the hard way,” however those challenges that I have faced and overcome have helped me be the unique person I am today. And without these experiences, I would not have the abilities I have today to be able to combine my passion for horses along with my passion for helping people in the distinctive and unparalleled ways that I offer people through Horse Guided Coaching at Spirit Mountain Healing Center. I give people hope and help through horses.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
First I would take my friend to the restaurant San Tan Flats in Queen Creek, AZ. This is a unique restaurant as it has outdoor seating (as well as indoor) that is around individual fire-pits where not only can you enjoy a meal you can also roast marshmallows after the meal, all while listening to a live band and dancing if you want to. The theme is Western memorabilia that is eclectic and unique to the wild west. The food is awesome as well as the ambiance. After having meal I would take my camper with my friend and we would head out to some of the Arizona State parks. I would start with the Lost Dutchman State park out near Apache Junction. We would camp and then go to the Goldfield Ghost town and mine which is down the road from the part. We would explore the shops, take a mine tour, and then eat a steak dinner at the Mammoth Steakhouse. After dinner we would go back to the campsite and enjoy a campfire and discuss the day’s events. Then we would head to Roper Lake State park near Safford, AZ. Here we would go hiking on the many trails and go fishing on Roper Lake. At night we would have dinner by the campfire and discuss the day’s events. Next we would go to Catalina State park near Tucson, AZ. This state park is at the base of the Catalina mountains. We would go exploring the hiking trails as well as go horse back riding from a local trail riding stables. In the evening we would have dinner by the fire and discuss the day’s events. From Catalina, we would head back to my house in Gilbert, where I would say good bye to my friend as she headed back to her home.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would like to do a shout out to my daughter for being there for me and supporting me as I went through my graduate work as well as my mother, who is no longer with me. Without my mother and daughter’s support and encouragement through this process I know I would not be where I am today. I am deeply grateful and thankful for all that they both have done for me to be able to be where I am today. And I LOVE where I am today! Thank you Mom and my daughter! I couldn’t have done this without you!!!

Image Credits
Samantha Johnson

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