Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado Lets Guests Heal With Horses

SANTA FE, NM—The Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado is tapping into the therapeutic power of horses through the Equus Experience, an on-site program employing horse sense and a passion for animals to help guests move beyond challenges.

“Our guests come to Santa Fe seeking healing and spiritual traditions the destination has long been known for,” said Meredith Macfarlane, GM, Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado. “Equus brings an exciting opportunity for us to take personal enrichment and healing a step further, with an innovative program that also speaks to our origins as a dude ranch.”

Kelly Wendorf is the CEO and co-founder of Equus, a self-managed leadership and self-mastery mentoring collaborative. She developed the Equus Experience Method, a horse-assisted learning process, in response to her frustration with the limitations of conventional learning methodologies.

“The Equus Experience works with the confluence of neuroscience, attachment theory, radical self-inquiry and equine behavioral sciences to create breakthrough learning experiences that literally rewire participants brains toward wellness, fulfillment, confidence and courage,” said Wendorf. “This results in people’s lives changing, whether it be within the context of their work or their personal life. Clients report that they feel greater awareness, increased trust in themselves and others, a deeper sense of purpose and meaning, and clearer direction informed by wisdom.”

There are no prerequisites for participants, no riding is involved and there’s no horse experience necessary, so the program is accessible to many. “This is not about the horse. The program focuses on the individual person, group or team, and how they show up in the arena,” said J. Scott Strachan, chief visionary officer and co-founder, Equus. “All work is on the ground with horses. The specific invitation to our client is to come with openness and curiosity. That ensures the best outcome. The horses reflect who you are, and how you show up, absent the story you might tell yourself about that.” 

Facilitating insight and sustained change are the hallmarks of the program, and as a result of time spent with the horses, participants are experiencing deep, fundamental shifts in their lives. “We often get emails that tell us something like, ‘We spent just one morning with you and the horses two years ago, and the experience still informs our team today.’ Of course, everybody comes away with something different,” said Wendorf.

For the program, each experience is custom-designed to meet the needs of the individual client and shaped specifically to meet the desired outcome.

“Do you want to learn how to set better boundaries in your family? We will create that optimal learning experience for you. Do you want your team to stop the silo dynamic and communicate better with each other? We design a workshop that ensures this can happen,” said Wendorf.

In the future, there are plans to increase the number of horses—the animals are given a choice to work or not—and train experienced candidates as facilitators of the Equus Experience Method, without sacrificing the core beliefs and standards the program rests upon.

“Our expansion maintains focus on one important value—to never compromise the quality of our service or the integrity of the process. Our approach entails a deep, laser-focused attention of care toward each client, which requires spaciousness and presence,” said Strachan. “Such presence is required of our facilitators, but also our horses. So our expansion must always keep these qualities intact.”