March 04, 2021 3 min read

We caught up with Carrie O’Neal of Higher Hooves, a Gunnison Valley coaching program that connects individuals in need with horses who know just how to help.

Carrie O’Neal is up to something special. A longtime horse lover who has personally benefited from the healing powers of the horse, she is now making it her goal to share this gift with the rest of our community. What’s even more exciting (at least for us) is that she’s using our rescued mustang, Sundance, as one of her equine counterparts. Learn more about Carrie’s technique and how you or someone you know might be able to benefit in our interview, below.


1. Tell us a bit about your background and what led you to the Equine Gestalt Coaching Method.  

I have personally benefited emotionally from time with my horse and am convinced that horses have the capacity to help we humans in our healing work. Gestalt means flow or wholeness. We all have unfinished business that raises its ugly head at times. Through the Gestalt work, one is able to move through those unwelcome emotions and become whole again.


2. Do you have to have experiences with horses to participate? 

Not at all. All the work is done on the ground. I make sure everyone has a safety demonstration before entering alone in the round pen with a gentle horse. 

3. Can you share what kind of person might benefit from this coaching? 

The work can be as light as wanting to make a shift in your life, or a decision, or one can work through deeper work like trauma and abuse. It is aimed to sharpen our awareness of ourselves and help us design a healthy future. The neurons in our bodies hold on to pain and trauma. This work is experiential, allowing a release to occur on a cellular level—leaving the trauma behind us to not be triggered again in such a heightened way.


4. What makes the horse such an integral part of the process? 

Horses are animals of prey. Their acute survival skills over centuries has given them a profound awareness of energies and vibrations around them. They sense so much more than we are aware of in our own bodies. The sixth sense if you will….dogs can be similar. 



5. Do you think working with Sundance, a rescued mustang, will make the experience even more enriching? 

A mustang like Sundance that has gained a healthy connection to humankind (some have not) has survived abandonment, possibly abuse, confinement, and who knows what else. A mustang can be a superhero to our souls because they too are survivors of similar traumas. They have learned to trust again, which is beautiful.

6. Tell us more about the retreats you offer.  

In the future I will be offering off-the-grid retreats in the West Elk Wilderness to enjoy nature as a healing source.  The focus will be health and healing, and the horses will get to play a big role. There is nothing like unplugging and resting in quiet, beautiful spaces to allow our hearts to receive what is out there for us. The truth is, we all need rest, quiet, and beauty. That alone is healing. The Gestalt coaching will be an added bonus.


Learn more about Higher Hooves here and follow along with the journey on Instagram.