Ep 8: Lynn Thomas - Arenas of Change & Horses for Mental Health

Rupert Isaacson: Welcome
to Equine Assisted World.

I'm your host, Rupert Isaacson.

New York Times bestselling
author of the Horse Boy.

Founder of New Trails Learning
Systems and long ride home.com.

You can find details of all our programs
and shows on Rupert isaacson.com.

Here on Equine Assisted World.

We look at the cutting edge and the best
practices currently being developed and,

established in the equine assisted field.

This can be psychological, this
can be neuropsych, this can be

physical, this can be all of the
conditions that human beings have.

These lovely equines, these beautiful
horses that we work with, help us with.

Thank you for being part of the adventure
and we hope you enjoy today's show

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Welcome back to equine assisted world
where we talk to people at the cutting

edge of this rapidly developing field that
we're all involved in and interested in

and fascinated by, how horses help humans
and how humans can help horses back.


It's a very different world now,
the equine assisted world, to where

it was a couple of decades ago.

Twenty years ago, it was really
on the hippie margins still.

And a lot of us who were in the field or
beginning in the field We're having to

justify ourselves all the time, basically,
explain why we didn't suck constantly,

which is very annoying and tiring.

But, nonetheless, understandable when
you were dealing with mental health

world that had no understanding about
natural animal based therapies, let

alone movement in the brain, let alone
axons and dendrites and BDNF and oxytocin

and all these things, which we now
know about almost in a mainstream way.

But back then, only a few neuroscientists
here and there knew about.

So, way back when that
was is still the case.

There was a pioneering group and a
pioneering organization and a pioneering

modality known to a lot of us as Igala.

I'm lucky enough to have the founder of
Igala, Lynn Thomas, here with us, today.

She's awesome.

And she's going to talk to us not just
about Igala and how that evolved and what

were the achievements were there, but also
about her two very exciting new ventures

in the equine assisted world, arenas
for Change and Horses for Mental Health.

We're all waiting with bated breath
to find out what you're up to, Lynn.

So, Lynn thank you so much
for coming on the podcast.

Lynn Thomas: Yeah.

Thank you, Rupert.

Thanks for having me on, and
I love your introduction.

I think that was a really great
description of what this journey has

been like for the work that we all do.

Rupert Isaacson: Yeah.

It's it's it's we've all been through it.

And now here we are, suddenly A bit
surprised, I think, that we're suddenly

you know, insurance companies will now
pay for stuff that they laughed at,

twenty years ago and that the neuroscience
and medical field has caught up and now

does recognize very strongly the the
the work that we do, largely, I think,

because a lot of them ended up having
kids personally themselves who ended up

in our programs or, patients that ended
up in our programs, and then at a certain

point, they couldn't ignore it anymore.

But, yeah, whatever the
evolution, it's been positive.

So, Lynn, I've talked too much already.

Who are you, and how
did you get into this?

Lynn Thomas: Yeah.


And I And just to say too, I do
agree it's really been a grassroots

effort with all these programs
sacrificing and pioneering so much.

But, yeah, my my as you
mentioned, my name is Lynn Thomas.

I am a mental health professional,
licensed clinical social worker.

And I like to share that my
background is not with horses at all.

I grew up in the city.

I didn't have Espoie.

To horses.

The most I'd ever done was girl scout
camp, horse camp for one week, and that

was the extent of my, Exposure to that.

So didn't even know that I
had an interest in horses.

And I had an opportunity.

I went to school, went to college, got
my degree my My bachelor's degree in

psychology and trying to figure out
what I was gonna do because I had no

idea what what I was gonna do with that.

And I saw a little classified ad in the
college newspaper that said wilderness

counselors wanted and a phone number.

And I was like, I don't know what that is.

I had never really backpacked.

I had never done anything like that.

I the most I've done was
car camping with my family.

So I called up and and it turned
out to be this, like, survival

kind of program for troubled youth
going through the deserts of Utah.

I I live in Utah.

So, and I was like, well,
this sounds interesting.

So I embarked on a new journey in my life
that got me into that realm of nature, of

Experiential learning of survival skills
and and the concept of not just talking,

but doing And also challenging ourselves.

We can get you know, I kinda got
into this, like, well, we don't

really grow unless we're challenged.

And so that kinda got me
on that path and journey.

And then I years sometime later,
Uh, I left that wilderness program

because you we live out there two
weeks at a time, have one week off.

You're you're hiking around in
survival with troubled teens, and

it's It's a high burnout rate.

Let me just put it that way, but it was
very rewarding and decided I wanted to

go back to school and get my master's
degree so I could be a therapist.

And in the wilderness program, the
therapist could come in for one day and

hang out and camp out if they wanted,
or they could go home if they want.

And I was like, oh, this what I wanna do.

So I went back to school
to be a therapist.

Well, in the meanwhile, I ended
up working at a a a residential

youth program on a ranch setting.

And that's what got me
introduced to horses.

And there, I said, Wow.

The stuff with horses is really
powerful because I love what

we do with the wilderness.

Like, you really gotta be out there
for a while, but then in a one hour

session with these horses, you see
these phenomenal changes happening.

And so that's what got
me interested in it.

That's where I was introduced to Greg
Kerstin, and That led on to a path.

I went back to school with the
intention to go back to the wilderness

program, be a therapist there.

Well, while so I did that.

Went back to the wilderness program.

While I was in the wilderness
program, they said, hey.

We don't want you to stay
in this wilderness part.

We're starting this ranch
program, treatment boarding

school in a ranch setting, and
we want you to move over there.

And I was like, well, I
don't I don't know what okay.

And it was just starting.

The person who was running
it, it was really rough.

There was five kids there.

They were kinda running the place.

And within a month, I was then
asked to become the executive

director of that program.

And, I was What's that?

How old are you at this point?

I was twenty two.

I I was fresh out of college,
out of my master's program.

They clearly

Rupert Isaacson: had a lot of
other people they could draw prom.


Lynn Thomas: Yeah.

I think it was one of those
situations where I was like, what?

I and, actually, at the time, I
think I was, There weren't many

women directors of treatment boarding
schools, but, also, I was, like,

twenty two years old or twenty one.

I can't remember now.

But, Um, and at first, I was like, no.


I don't I don't want to
this is not what I wanna do.

And I was married at the time,
and my husband you gotta do this.

This is an amazing opportunity.



Well, I ended up running in
that program and And wanting it

to revolve around the horses.

It's on a ranch, wanting the
horses to be the primary focus.



Rupert Isaacson: With so little horse
experience and just one sort of exposure

on a ranch with in a therapeutic setting.

Why were you already at this point
convinced, um, that you wanted the

whole thing to run around the horse?

Lynn Thomas: Yeah.

I mean, that's a great question.

It was really that little exposure that
I had for the I think I was at that

other program for a year, Or maybe a year
and a half, but it it was so powerful

that I saw what the horses could do.

And this ranch had horses, And so I
really felt strongly that I want that to

be the main element of everything would
revolve and focus around the central.

So there's school.

There's other, recreational programming
because these kids live there.


And there's nature and all
that, but I felt so strongly.

And And that's a good question.

I mean, I think I've just
seen the power of it.

Rupert Isaacson: What had
you seen out of interest?

Because, I mean, people like
me, I'm a horse obsessive.

I always was.

So, So, of course, I'm gonna
revolve my life around horses

because I want ponies in my life.

You're coming from a different place.

So what so you're obviously observant.

What had you observed that was so
transformative in that one year that you

were on that other ranch that made you
so sure that you wanted this new program

to revolve entirely around horses despite
not having a horse background yourself.

Lynn Thomas: I think one
was they're living beings.

And so you can go out in the wilderness.

You can do ropes courses, which
I did a lot of that, and they're

not really reacting to you.

And so I I saw these horses react
Or respond to these interactions,

relationships with these with
these kids and their families when

their families would come out.

And it was that it was that
response that made such an impact.

And, yeah, then people say,
well, why not other animals?

Well, The horses respond in a
way that seems more authentic.

They don't care if you're their friend.

They don't they've got
their own thing going on.

Like dogs or other animals, they tend
to well, maybe not cats, but they tend

to, um, not have that level of dynamic
response that you see horses have.

And I saw it through that relationship,
through that interaction, Have such

feedback and have such meaning in
a safe way because you can talk to

kids or talk to them and say, hey.

It would be good if you change
your behaviors this way.

But the horses give that
nonverbal feedback, like, I

don't like what you're doing.

And when it comes from An animal like
that and not from a human that has biases

and agendas and and there's histories
with different humans in their past.

But when it comes from a
horse, that seemed to impact.

That seemed to have meaning, and they
wanted to have that relationship.

They wanted to make it better.

And so I think seeing those kind of
scenarios where I saw people change more

rapidly in that kind of environment.

So that And that's what motivated

Rupert Isaacson: me.

I've just written down these
two words, dynamic response.

The dynamic response of the voice.

This that's an intriguing, way to put it.

Can you can you can you tell
us a bit more what you mean?

Let's imagine you were not talking
to an audience of people who who were

already sold on Equine assisted stuff.

Dynamic response, it's effectively
immediate strong feedback.

In what particular way?

Because let's say, for
example, you worked with goats.

I've worked with goats.

If a goat doesn't like what you're
doing, there's some immediate feedback.

They leave.

And they leave pretty fast.

If they really, really don't
like what you're doing, they'll

butt you and then leave.

So that's dynamic feedback.

Obviously, a dog might run away, whine,
lie on the floor, show its belly, or bite

you depending on what sort of dog it was.

That's dynamic feedback.

So what is it about the horse's
dynamic feedback that sold you.

Lynn Thomas: Yeah.

I think that's a really great
question because I've had

really powerful experiences
too with other animals as well.

And I think, one, when you were
when you were saying that, I was

thinking, well, one, their size.

Maybe the dynamicness of it is they're
bigger and the responses feel bigger.

And Because they're bigger, there's they
can be more intimidating and can be scare.

I mean, they could hurt us in a
maybe a a more A more dynamic way.

But then at the same time,
there's an element of gentleness.


They are soft.

They have these soft eyes, tend,
tend to have these soft eyes.

And I think maybe because of our
evolutionary history with them too.

There might be that connection with them.

So I think when you ask that, it feels
bigger, Um, in a dynamic way because

their responses feel more impactful.

Maybe, like I said, their size, our
history with them, That fear draw.

Like, I'm fear I'm fearful of them,
but I'm I'm also drawn towards them.

As a They're

Rupert Isaacson: iconic.

They're beautiful.

They're Yeah.

Back to

Lynn Thomas: Yeah.



And I really do think I mean, they're die
I mean, being a prey animal, they really

are more aware of their environment.

I I think maybe them
potentially in other animals.

And so I do feel like they have this
kind of way of sensing and Responding

to people that might end up having
more meaning because as a human, I'm

also maybe, have a traumatic ground.

And I'm also maybe scared
of of my environment.


And I also want connection and
have a herd like the horses have.

And I think there's a lot of parallels
that horses have in their kind of

just organic way of being, natural
way of being that That I don't think

is as clear with other animals.

Rupert Isaacson: And you have you
have observed all of this in that

short year despite not really
having a background with horses.

That's interesting to me because, it
takes a while, I think, for many people

even when they're learning to ride and
they really want to engage with horses.

It takes people a long time
to learn how to read horses.

You must have a unusual
Series of Observation Skills.

You also must have had good mentors,
presumably, on-site there to help

you interpret what you were seeing.



Lynn Thomas: did you come Yeah.

I mean, I think that's
definitely the case.

And, um, you're right.

I mean, I think the way my mind
works, I'm looking as a third I'm

looking for what's gonna help our
clients in the best way I can find.

And I had experienced different
things, Different environments

and had been working with troubled
teens since I was eighteen kinda

thing too in different capacities.

And I I just I think I just saw the teens
respond and the families respond to horses

in a way I hadn't seen in other places.

So that captured me.

And And then when I had the opportunity
to run this program and kinda turn it

into the program, I'm so I had enough
experience working with troubled teens

that I knew How to create a program to
support troubled teens in their growth.

And involving the horse is just
like, oh, I could see the The power

of it, and I wanted to do more.

I wanted to offer more of it.

And so at that time, like you said,
this wasn't There were other programs

out there, and it was mostly teaching
horsemanship and and that kind of thing.

So, I mentioned cofounded the
gala with with Greg Kirson.

So we haven't cofounded the gala
yet, but I actually had worked

with him at that other program.

So I contacted him And invited him to
come to where what I was doing now.

He was a horse, presumably.


And he's a horseman.


And so that and he had been working
Working a lot with troubled teens

too and doing kinda more the, I
would say, ropes course concept,

the experiential learning concept of
creating problem solving activities.

And through that, you learn
things about yourself, and you get

confidence Because you overcome
the problems and find solutions.

So it was setting up more
activities like that.

That, again, I think, was novel at the
time maybe, um, whereas most was, again,

teaching basic horse or not basic,
but teaching horsemanship, Teaching

writing and involving and doing maybe
competitive equestrian experiences.

So I ended up I was in this
program, running this program, and

then ended up getting pregnant.

And it was one of those
life Scenarios where okay.

What do I do?

Do I stay do I stay working?

Because I was working probably eighty hour
weeks when you're working residential,

and then they had put me over the
wilderness program by this time too.

So the programs were doing
well, and I was like, oh, okay.

Do I stay?

Do I You know, what do I do?

And then I found out and I was planning
on I'm gonna I'm gonna keep working.

I'm gonna stay.

And then I found out I was having twins.

And I was like, oh.

And I said, okay.

That's I don't think I can
do an eighty hour work week

And also take care of twins.

That kinda put me over the edge
of, okay, maybe I I need to leave.

And so I did.

I decided that I needed to stay home
and take care of the twins, and that's

where it was because of that That
talking with Greg, and we're like he was

like, I'd like to train other people.

Like, that's great.

And because I'm not doing this eighty
hour week, I'm staying at home.

I need a hobby on the side.


Let's start doing training
other professionals.

And like you said, back then, that
was I I think I'm trying to remember.

We did our first training in nineteen
ninety seven or nineteen ninety eight

and decided to formally start eGala,
Equine Assisted Growth and Learning

Association, as a nonprofit organization
to train professionals how to do this.

There really wasn't much Out there
at the time, there was, EFMA, which

was a subsection of what was back
then called NARA, now called PATH.

I know Barbara Rector.

I mean, there were kind of things
kinda happening out there, but

it really wasn't a whole lot.

So it was kinda starting this new niche
That as I I really did think it was

gonna be a small hobby on the side.

I didn't expect there to be
that much time, Um, to it.

But as you can see, that journey, I
was pleasantly surprised that, See,

there's a lot of people interested in
incorporating horses for mental health.

So, within a year so we formally
started Yigal in nineteen ninety nine.

Within a year, it grew, and
I, once again, was working.

Every time I could Every time the
twins were sleeping, I I was working.

I look back now.

I was much younger than, obviously, so
I was like, how on earth did I do that?

But we we really started
getting the word out there.

And and, ultimately, I feel that
my lack of background in horses was

one of the strengths to that because
trying to get credibility in the mental

health community, especially back
Then as you said, we were looked at

as very alternative, very out there.

And so I felt like I could speak the
language to people who knew nothing

about horses, who had no interest
in horses, and what did they and And

being a mental health professional,
what did they need to hear to start

being open to this kind of concept?

So we're really focused our marketing
and our Efforts to kinda get out there

in the mental health world, and I feel
like that was a great kind of beginning

of of getting that credibility, of
building that awareness, And something

that's not associated with horses and
and something that looked at us as crazy.


Rupert Isaacson: But if you now if you
were bootstrapping something at age twelve

with so mum and and married and so on.

I presume that you you you had to some
some advantages and that you had this

ranch at your disposal with the horses at
your disposal so that you could Use that.

Did were you doing your
initial trainings from there?

And then you talked about marketing.

We all know marketing's very expensive.

So How were you able to fund so young
and so raw, um, that kind of machine

because that's that's not easy.

We know I mean, there's lots of people
who've been doing things for twenty,

thirty years who haven't the budget
for that or haven't cracked that.

What what what What was it
that made that possible?

Lynn Thomas: Well, by this point,
I'd left that, A program I was

directing, became a stay at home mom.

My husband at that time was
starting a new business too

As an a real estate appraiser.

And so that we didn't really have
money coming in, and it was one of

those leaps of faith, you could say.

So I think anybody who's an entrepreneur
might be able to relate somewhat.

So what funded it?

My Our credit cards, that's what and I do
not I'm not promoting that as a good idea.

I'm just saying that, Um, I yeah.

We played that game of every little bit
that came in went Back into the business.

And then yeah, my my personal credit cards
got bigger and bigger and bigger, the debt

on them, but played that game of, okay.

I'm paying this credit
card with that credit card.

And that's literally how it started and
Why it kinda kept going for a while there

till we could start paying those off.

I remember finally being able to pay.

That was, oh, Three years, I think,
into it that I was finally able we

were bringing in enough money that I
could at least cover that that debt

that had it had taken to get it going.

So I and I will say the other
benefit at that time, That's when

the Internet was really kinda
starting to gain some traction.


It was still very, very slow
Internet, dial up Internet.

But it was enough where, as a
small business entrepreneur, you

were able to have a way to get the
word out there that didn't cost

Thousands and thousands of dollars.

And we spent some money putting in some
little ads in, like, horse and rider

and, American hort practical horsemen
and, some of those kind of magazines

that helped us get the word out too.

And then That the Internet
really started playing a role

in helping us spread the word.

So that was a very fortunate
timing and a great gift Aquinas.

That way to get exposure to the world.

Rupert Isaacson: Awash with five
bazillion people all offering their stuff.

It was, yeah, it was, Yeah.

And then presumably then the ranch as
well you were were you able to run the

trainings there so that you The cost
of those horses and that sort of thing

were taken care of by the institution.

Presumably, you weren't having to, in
addition to getting this new thing up

and run, also, uh, workout the hay belt.

Presumably, all were you?


Lynn Thomas: So, at that time,
Then Greg and I cofounded that.

He had moved up to the area
I was in, and we literally he

had one horse and a backyard.

That's where we so we were
doing a private practice.

I was doing some, again,
also that on the side.

We're doing some sessions
worked with youth corrections.


So this

Rupert Isaacson: is no
longer at the original app.



Lynn Thomas: this was no longer
at that nice corporate on Yahoo.

So That that was run by a nice,
well funded corporate entity.

And so we had that going, but we went the
route of people hosting the trainings.

So as we got a training, people host
it, so they provided their facility.

They provided their horses.

And so, I mean, I think that first
year, um, Nineteen ninety nine,

we did six trainings, which was
actually better than I thought.

And I kinda thought, like, Like,
that's all we would be doing in a

year was six trainings in a year.

iT ultimately grew later And years to
like, we were doing, like, eighty Yeah.

Trainings a year.

So you can kinda see the
growth of what happened.

And it didn't take that long to get there
back then, like I said, a few years.

And so, yeah, that's how it started.

And that's why I tell people, you
even with a if you wanna get a program

started, we started with a one horse
in a backyard, not even a proper arena.


So it it was And because of our
our approach wasn't mounted work,

it was Primarily on the ground and
later became all on the ground.

We used to do some mounted
back in the beginning days.

onE horse Would be okay.

And we didn't have that
many clients either to worry

about the horse burning out.


Rupert Isaacson: What became
of that horse out of interest?

Who was that horse?

Did that horse have an
interesting personality?

Lynn Thomas: I am trying to remember
if that was I mean, jazz is the

course that has the most Memory for
me, I don't it wasn't jazz, though.

And now I'm trying to
remember what that horse was.

Chief anyway anyway, he was a quarter
horse, And most of the horses that

end up getting were quarter horses
and, yeah, great personalities.


Rupert Isaacson: Dynamic
feedback is their thing

Lynn Thomas: for sure.

Very dynamic feel.

And I'll share a story with you.

I don't know if now is the right
time of one of the more prominent

stories that It's not with clients.

It's with practitioners.

That kind of really impacted
my view about horses.

sO Maybe.

I don't know when that
time will be, but alright.

It's the teaser.

I said the

Rupert Isaacson: teaser.


Well, we're all teased.


Tell it if you if you feel you can.

If you feel not, we'll

Lynn Thomas: skip.


I This is kinda one of the things that
impacted me and my view of horses.

So there's a horse named Jazz a
beautiful gray, , speckled gray.

And, yeah, he he was this horse
that, Like, when kids will walk in

and and they would like, I'm tough.

I'm cool.

He put his ears straight back And
chase them right out of the arena.


And he I mean, ultimately, yeah, he just
didn't like any double messages At all.

If you were not in if you were
not congruent with what you felt

inside to what that mask was that
you had on the outside, he just

was like, I'm gonna kick at you.

I'm gonna, like I mean, he He'd do all
sorts of dynamic nonverbal reactions to

that, and you really had to be completely
congruent For him to want to interact with

Rupert Isaacson: you.


And you didn't select him because of that.

He just he just

Lynn Thomas: No.

It just emerged as his personality,
which was really awesome.

And, well, one time we were
doing a training, and we were

doing stuff in the round pen.

And this was with a group of
practitioners, many who are horse

trainers or self proclaimed horse
trainers or whatever, but, have horse

background and horse Experience.

And they were just gonna do back then,
we were doing some round pen stuff

and what we did, and they would go
in there with Jazz and just, Yeah.

Try to do what they do as as
experienced horse people and

get the horse to move around.

And he would just, Uh, ears back,
turn his butt, do the little kick

ups, um, and just Chase them out
too, which was, like, amazing.

But, anyway there was a a person
there at our training, a mental health

professional, and I had known him.

He works with troubled youth.

Really good counselor.

Very green in the horse world.

Really doesn't have much
horse experience at all.

And he went in that round pen,
and jazz just start going around.

And that was one of those moments
that I was, first of all, in awe of,

but second of all, that realization
of how much horses can pick up on

things, and it's not always our book
knowledge, and it's not to minimize the

importance of having that knowledge of
of an expertise working with horses.

And this horse, I guess, was
just so sensitive and so, I

don't know, his personality.

But, anyway, I was just amazed
by what they pick up on.

And this was you know, he picked
up on that guy's personality

and was not I guess he wasn't a
threat maybe the way he came in.

I don't now, but he's also
really good with people.


Rupert Isaacson: okay.

So you you evolve Igala.

What If you were you know, let's
say I didn't know anything about

equine therapy stuff at all.

What did Igala do?

What does igartner do?

Lynn Thomas: As far as the actual models

Rupert Isaacson: of Yeah.

What is it set out to do?

What's what's the purpose,
and how does it do it?

So I think,

Lynn Thomas: One of the things that we
were getting interest from the mental

health community and and starting to get
more credibility is we set standards.

And the standards are not just
about how to be with horses.

The standards were about for
the mental health community.

So for instance, we required The team
of a mental health professional and

an equine specialist, and both had to
have certain minimum qualifications in

their their areas of scopes of practice.

So by requiring that a mental
health professional is always there.

We were very, very clear that we
are doing a mental health service.

This is not equine whatever.

We're doing a mental health service,
and we're involving Aquinas.

In that.

So being very clear about that.

We were we at first, we did do
some mounted stuff I mentioned.

Later, we became all on the ground,
and there Couple of reasons.

One was because we saw the value of
that connection with the horses while

you're on the ground where horses can
be maybe more authentically themselves

And not to say again, there are
wonderful benefits with riding too,

but the other thing was perception.

When you would say we're involving horses,
the immediate thing was, oh, that's nice.

That's recreation.

How nice to do that.


When we talked about doing stuff on the
ground, it kinda helped, I think, that

perception of, well, maybe this is a
little bit different than recreation.

And so, I think that helped as well.

anD then the other thing that
we did was too was we were clear

we're not Teaching horsemanship.

Now, again, clients may we would learn
a lot about horses along the way, but

I think, again, we were very clear.

We're setting up we're structuring
sessions in a way That's deliberate

to meet treatment goals, and learning
about horses is not our objective.

So I think, again, getting that message
out there was also very helpful.

And and then we did things with the horses
that didn't look like normal horsemanship.

And, actually, later, we even
started many several years later,

we even started encouraging.

Don't even use horsemanship tools.

Don't use halters.

Don't Use leader ropes.

Get all that out of the space,
again, partly for perception

that this is different.

This is not your typical type
of thing that you think of

when you think of horses.

And so I think that was part of our
messaging that was getting maybe some

kinda like, Oh, maybe this is something
a little different and and really being

clear about these are professionals.

These are mental health professionals.


They're doing what they would do
in an office, but they're doing

it in this different environment
that has these additional benefits.


Rupert Isaacson: Okay.

So I I I begin to understand
more now about the Agala model.

That's very it's very astute of you guys
to to address, I think, upfront that

people would regard it as recreation and
wouldn't take it seriously unless there

was a mental health professional involved.

Of course, that, I guess, to some
degree, is a limiting factor too

because unless you can find that mental
health Professional to work with.

You then wouldn't be able to
do the program, I presume.

What so what how did did you help
people or mentor people to say, Okay.

You're a horse person.

You want to do this stuff, but
you're gonna need to find a mental

health professional to work with.

Here is the ABC of how
you Do that or find that?

Would or did people just have to
hunt it up themselves and then

show up together for a training?

How how how did how did it work?

Because it's It's a relatively tall order,
I think, for a lot of homeless people

that don't exist in any kind of mental
health professional world to team up with

those people, particularly back then.

Lynn Thomas: Yeah.

In fact, when we first started,
I would say I don't know.

Just get but probably at least
ninety percent of our membership

were equine professionals.


And ten percent more mental health.

So you're absolutely right.

It was starting to get that interest.

And then the next Step was like
you said, it was usually mental

health professionals that were also
horse professionals that they had

experience with horses and background.

So then they started, oh Oh, this exists?

I can include both my
interests into one thing?

This is amazing.

And so we kinda started the
next step was attracting those

Mental health professionals.

And then, really, I think it became more
that broader awareness, more word-of-mouth

that started to introduce, And we were
presenting it that I'd present at mental

health conferences and and as well as
other programs would and practitioners.

But then it started getting that
is peaking that interest of people

who don't have horse experience.

And we would say straight
out on materials.

You don't need horse experience.

You need to work with an equine specialist
that has horse experience, but you don't.

Now back then too, I think there
was some criticism about that.

Like, everybody should have that
horse knowledge, and I I agree.

You do need to have some.

But to get the the feet in the door, um,
so we started then these mental health

professionals that had zero like me.

I had no background with horses.

I had no interest in it, and I
would share that straight out.

I don't have a background with horses.

I have no experience with
that, but here's why I do it.


As a mental health professional,
I see our clients change in ways

that I don't see in the office.

And that's very rewarding as a
mental health professional to

know you're making a difference.


And so I think that it did take
some time, but it you know, I think

within probably four four years,
For sure, we were had probably equal

equine specialists and mental health
professionals in in the membership.

And then it became even more mental
health professionals because we had the

mental Professionals that also had Equine
and then mental health professionals

know Equine, and it actually ended up
becoming, I would say, the majority of our

membership ended up being mental health.

So that was that progression
of getting that word out there.

Rupert Isaacson: Now we all know the
dangers involved in working with horses.


Obviously, showed you some of those.

I presume he never
actually did nail anybody.

I presume it was mostly mock
charges rather than actually putting

someone on the ground and kneeling
on them or or that sort of thing.

So, and, of course, that we know that's
what horses mostly do, but, nonetheless,

it's an it's a dangerous thing.

How could you, without horse experience,
discern whether somebody truly had

enough horse experience or the right
horse experience to be able to do

this work professionally and safely
because this is one of the hard

things as as all the listeners know.

In the world of horses, it's
such a specific knowledge set.

And there are a lot of people, sadly, who
claim to have more knowledge than they do.

And we all know that it's something
that real knowledge with horses, Really

being able to keep people safe around
horses takes decades, to to acquire.

So how could you at that early stage
and then how could you help mental

health people with no equine background.

How could you help them discern
who were the right equine

professionals to work with?

Lynn Thomas: I, yeah, I mean,
that's such a great question, and

I think it's the ongoing challenge.

And And I think it's still this way,
but back then too, especially yeah.

There's no nothing standardized
in the equine industry.


And there's no one USA.




And there's no one, uh, like I said,
there's so many different knowledge bases

you could have and routes you could go
in your horse experience and journey.

So, we ended up having, membership
discussions about what could we set as

a minimum Standard and decided, like,
well, how do we define a professional?

And a professional is someone
that has formal training, that

has hands on experience as well
and that follows Standards and

ethical guidelines and what they do.

So we kinda created our own standard
back then in a gala that has pretty much

stayed the entire time, and that just
basically says you have this many hours of

Rupert Isaacson: I mean And how
does somebody prove that to to

Lynn Thomas: to you?

And then they would
they would send in yeah.

And you can't always prove it because
a lot of these things don't have you

don't get certificates Necessarily.



I mean, it was honor policy.

Most of it, they would send in,
here's what we did to achieve this.

I mean, you have some organizations
like Path, that will, like, test you.

You send them videos
maybe, and can you do this?

And I think, again, you still it's a it's
a tough one because people who do have a

lot of hands on background and experience
may still be not as Qualified or one

you can trust as maybe someone else.


So it's and I and I will say it's the same
in the mental in the mental health world.

There's schooling and testing
and licensure registration in

different parts of the world.

So you have that, but that doesn't
make Mean that someone's a good

mental health professional.


But at least there's a minimum standard.


There's at least something
a minimum standard.

And I think that was one of our
reasons too to have a team approach.

A team approach gives
some checks and balance.

Rupert Isaacson: We've gone through this a
little bit with Horse Boy because we went

through a we've gone through a learning
curve, and we're still on a learning curve

with this where, Like you, I started in a
a field with one horse and my son, but I

did have, by then, twenty five years plus.

I just I grew up with it.

It's what I had always made
my living partly from it.

I was part of that culture
from my childhood on.

So I had skills to draw on and I could
discern whether other people did or not.

However, when we first
began doing what we did.

We took at face value some some things
and ended up realizing that was a mistake.

And then, also, um, realizing
that there were such vast amounts

of differences in in in in what
people's experience with horses were.

What how could we distill
that down to a base minimum?

Because as you say, just because if if
they were coming from a European country

where there are standardized exams that
you do with horses and that sort of thing.

It's it's it's it's
actually more regulated.

iT didn't necessarily mean
that they knew that much.

And so we realized that The only
way we could know was to see them

and talk to them, and that's why we
ended up creating a a level one entry

course where one could discern exactly
what somebody's experience base was.

And if they didn't have enough to
really go further, then they couldn't

go up the levels until they had
you could say to someone, look.

Go away for eighteen months
or go away for two years.

Do this, do this, do this,
and do this, and come back.

And if you do that, you would be ready.

But currently, now, you we couldn't
trust you to keep someone safe on someone

else's child safe on a horse like this.

But it took us a while.

And, Um, I'm always intrigued by how
other people do this because it's it's

it's it's it's an art, not a science.

It's as you say.

Is it would you think it was because
Greg who you began this, was he

a particularly good horseman?

Did you rely to a large
degree on his discernment.

And, presumably, his discernment
must have been quite sound.

Otherwise, the whole thing
would have died to death.


That He must have also been able to help
you put into place a series of ways to

discern that could make it function.

Can you talk to us just a little
bit about how that evolved?


Lynn Thomas: Yeah.

I think, again, like, I came in
this with Not knowledge of horses.

So my fear level was
and I think that's good.

I mean, I think in some ways, the
fact that maybe I was a little

more acute to This scares me.

anD then you're absolutely right.

I need to trust my partner
and feel reassured.


This is okay what they're doing.

It's okay for them to be putting
their ears back in this case.

They're not past their threat the
horse is not past their threshold yet.

And at any time, if they are starting to
get past their threshold, we would teach

any any gala, call the clients and, hey.

Everybody come back here.

And you get them out of that
in that space, and immediately

everything deescalates.


So and then you can talk about it.

But so, yeah, absolutely.

I think there's a level of You gotta
have to trust your partner as well

as the equine specialist, and you can
trust the mental health professional

on the emotional side of the clients.


So I I did feel that trust and that level
of discernment, and I learned a lot.

I had the opportunity you know,
working with Greg and then working

with other equine professionals who
were genuinely very comfortable and

confident and experienced with horses.

And I think working with them
where they knew limits to push that

helped me push my limits, Where I
started to get more comfortable.

I mean, I'll share a quick story
again about jazz as another example

about learning about horses.

sO I was out at the farm.

By this time, I moved to a farm
and, feeding and And I had my kids.

By this, I had another
child, right, by accident.

Of course he did.

Twins was not planned, and then I
had one that kinda Dan, so eighteen

months younger than the twins.

I was raising three children.

And, um, well, my youngest, I
think he was probably two or three.

Anyways, Young, he could walk.

He's toddling around.

I'm pretty far away, and I see
him walk right up behind Jazz.

And I see and he goes
right behind the legs.

I'm far enough away.

There's nothing I can do about it.

And I remember I had learned
by this point too, like, even

if I had yelled, like, Hey.

All I would do is startle the horse.

Like, there's really
nothing I can do but watch.

And Jazz cocked his back
leg like he's gonna kick.

And my heart, like, stopped.


And then he put his foot and touched Wyatt
Just ever so gently and just kinda nudged

him and moved him out of the way and Wyatt
went toddling on, walking on his way.

And I was like, wow.

Here's this horse That kicks
aggressively looking, um, but, all that.

And then that's what he
did with this little child.

So gentle.

Rupert Isaacson: It is so interesting
how they modify behavior like that.

We I have a similar story, which
is that Betsy, who was the horse

who I did everything initially
on with my son had a a foal, and

this foal was an absolute witch.

One of the only truly vicious
by nature, and most I've ever

come across ever in almost fifty
years of of being a professional.

And this horse was exceptional.

And it turned out that the stallion she'd
come from was really known for this.

Anyway, She kicked everyone and everything
and bit everyone and everything.

And much later on even, I had
to I ended up inheriting her

because nobody wanted her.

Had to move her off the farm and move her
to someone who was a real professional

because we had kids going around.

I once found what my my, Uh, guy
who was running my barn at the time.

This is years in.

He was a real professional,
really qualified dude.

I found him unconscious, uh,
after having been kicked by her.

I was like, okay.

We have to get up.

And and, weirdly, she was always
very very submissive under

saddle, but on the ground.

Anyway, when she was very young, I saw a
very similar thing happen where Rowan, my

son, somehow got away from me and Aquinas.

Ran up to Manila.

I was like, and exactly as you
described, you cannot shout.

And I saw her raise the leg, He grabbed
it, and I saw her look around at him.

And you could see in her own brain,
she I don't really understand why

I'm not kicking you, but I am putting
my leg down now, and I myself am

a little bit confused about this.

And off you went.

And this this interesting dynamic,
this this a pure line of communication.

I'd seen it before with him with Betsy,
and I'd realized, oh, he has a direct

line to the horses that I do not.

My ego is firmly in the way because
I'm a neurotypical human being.

Him being not neurotypical, the
that veil, there was no veil across.

I've now seen this, so
many times in anyone.

I think he's worked with autism a lot
would tell the same stories, but No.

It's almost a cult because it seems
to defy all the accepted rules.

And, uh, I I I I agree with you.

This this this thing of how these animals
can modify their behavior for better or

worse with people is something which I
think until the therapeutic riding world

the the therapeutic equine world really
took off, was something that was really

sidelined to anecdote among horsemen.

And now, of course, we use it as a tool.

And you I suppose one could always say,
well, one did use it always as tools

with sort of schoolmaster horses and that
sort of thing, teaching people to ride,

but, nonetheless, I think the awareness
of just how much horses cut us a break.

I think it's only beginning to
be understood, and therefore,

a window on their intelligence
that we haven't had before.

It's an evolving out of our work.

But I'm I'm seeing a pattern emerge in
your story, which is that You are clearly

someone who learns very, very fast based
on observation because you started this

story saying you had no wilderness at all.

You're a city girl.

What city was that, by the way?

Lynn Thomas: Well, I moved around
growing up, but mainly in Houston.



Then I actually lived near London
of my last two years of high school.

So In the UK?

Rupert Isaacson: Yep.




So, yeah, in Houston, I I lived
and my ranch was outside Austin.

I know what a suburban
behemoth Houston is.


Despite the image of Texas as all
branches or Houston as anything but that.



So Then you this Houston girl, you're
out with teenagers who aren't very

good at looking after themselves.

You know nothing about
the wilderness, really.

And in a relatively short period of
time, you are is trusted to keep these

kids alive in an environment that you
yourself have not grown up in that usually

takes, again, some decades to get to
know in order to keep people safe in.

Yet there you are doing it,
not yet twenty years old.

And then to the point that They want you
to run the program, and then you go off

and you work on this ranch for a year,
admittedly, with a very good with Greg,

a very good mentor, but nonetheless I
mean, Mentorship Still Takes Its Time.

And a year later, there you are able to
judge, discern, and apply these things.

What what is it in your family
line that has this acuity for

observation and implementation of
what you observe, do you think?

Who do you get it from?

Lynn Thomas: wEll, thank you.

As you were sharing that, I was
like or people are crazy enough.

They're desperate enough.

But, yeah, you're right.


I do, Um, I do observe.

I do listen, and I do take it all in.

And I and I think I have a way
of Organizing information that,

helped create what we did with
Eigala and helped create the model

and helped create how to teach it.

I'm always trying to break things down.

I mean, my dad definitely comes to
mind because my dad is an engineer,

Mechanical engineer, and he has that
kind of perfectionist, problem solving,

working things out kinda brain.

So I do, I guess probably
feel them a lot like my dad.

So that could be and, Yeah.

I like to learn.

I mean, I think Are you we would
get criticized for what we were

doing, we would get Challenge.

We got, oh, you're
being abusive to horses.

You're do you know, all these things.

And I would listen to that Because
those perspectives are important, and

those perspectives are meaningful.

And then it would help me it's like, I
guess I'm a research gatherer in the sense

that I like to gather information and then
parse through it and then organize it.


Rupert Isaacson: my personal thinker,
and you don't and somewhere in there,

Your ego must be very quiet because
when you come under attack and in the

horse world and the mental health world,
super factional world, as we know.

People come out.

Everybody comes under attack.

That you you can't be in that
world, either of those worlds,

and not come under attack.

It's like academia.

You're gonna come under attack.

That's just it.

Yet to to be able to not take
it personally and to filter the

information, and then make it
work to make the thing better.

That takes a certain lack of
ego defensiveness, which is

unusual in both the horse world
and the mental health world.

Why is it that you don't take
it personally when people

go after you like that?


You were young back then too, isn't it?

Lynn Thomas: I I was young.


I mean, I think there is that level
of humility as a characteristic.

I was someone that really wasn't trying
to have any recognition of who in

fact, What years later that I now you,
starting new things and leaving a gala.


I didn't actually really knew people
even knew who I was, because That was

not something that's important to me.

But, yeah, I mean, I think even when
you're asking about finding equine

specialists and that Standard.

So one of our standards too
was continuing education.

Ah, okay.

Continuing education is an important
standard to me Personally, because,

one, I think as a professional,
that's part of being a professional

is you're always learning.

You're always trying to improve your craft
And challenge yourself in your craft.


And the other part of it, though, is
people who do continue education usually

tend to be more open to learning.

And it's it is, like, I
think horses pick up on that.

Like you said, that ego versus
openness to learning something new

and openness to being challenged.

Like, Just because I think
this way doesn't mean my way is

the only way or the right way.

So I I think there is that, I don't know
that belief system that kinda instilled

with me somehow or maybe personality, but
I I think that's why education, always

learning, continue education Equinix.

Requirements even like you're talking
about in in a certification or a training

program is important, at least to me.

Rupert Isaacson: And when you when
you talk about continuous education.

Do you mean that when people went through
Nagana certification, if they didn't

do a certain amount of continuous that
they would lose their certification, or

do you mean or and do you mean that you
looked for applicants who were already

involved in who had to show in some
way before they even began that they

were people who were seeking education
in various ways, or did you wait till

they got their their certification
and then say, alright, chaps.

You we've certified you, but there's
some hoops to jump through now.

Let's see if you jump through them.

Lynn Thomas: So, I mean, I yeah.

Hoops to jump through,
that Drives me crazy.

So it is first of all, I'll say both
to what you're saying, that they come

showing a history of getting continuing

Rupert Isaacson: education.

Did ask for that.

You look for Okay.


Lynn Thomas: interesting.


That they have that.

And then the second thing is
that they commit to continuing

education going forward.

And how do you get And of it.

Including with the gala yeah.


Oh, sorry.

Go ahead, Ruth.

How do you get them to commit?

Well, that's why we had with Ygala,
we had a certification that had a

two year Limited time limit on it.

So you did need to renew, and you
did need to do continuing education.

And it did include continuing
education Specific to the model.

Because if you're saying you're
a specialist in this model,

then there's continued learning.

So while I was doing a gala I
mean, the last training manual

that I wrote for the training
program, I mean, it was continually

evolving, continually changing.

It was the ninth edition.

And, technically, I was making little
changes along the way that I didn't

just change the edition number.

So the ninth edition training manual
was a complete rewrite From the

eighth edition training manual.

So it was kinda like every few
years, there was this, like, okay.

We've learned new things.

We've learned new ideas.

And so, yeah, we would want people who
are saying, I did the YALA model to

be able to say, and I'm up to date on
some of the latest ideas and concepts.

And I think for me, one, I
believe in always learning.


And I believe in pushing
ourselves, like I said.

But two, I probably would be bored
If we've stayed only the same.

So I think I like there's a part of
me that likes to try new ideas out,

and, oh, let's Try this and see what
happens, and it could be a complete fail.

And sometimes I would talk to
my colleagues and say, okay.

I have this idea.

Will you go try this?

And then they come back.

Well, That worked really
well, and I'd be like, really?

It did.

Be shocked and surprised.

But that kinda makes it
fun for me too to try

Rupert Isaacson: things out.


So now let's assume people are
listening to this podcast, and they're

perhaps driving and they can't.

Maybe they don't even maybe they
know the word igala, but they don't

actually know what igala did or does.

What Was is the purpose of Igala?

What's it trying to people ask me this
about horse boy, for example, and I so

I learned to ask myself that question.

It's basically what we're after, first and
foremost, with Horse Boys' communication.

And we use our key for that is
oxytocin, and that's generally for us

produced by rhythmic rocking of the
hips on a horse that's in collection.

And if the rider is very small,
they're up there with us and

being supported by our bodies.

And if they're not if
they're bigger or adult.

They are in long reigns or we're
working the horse in hand, but we're

looking for that collected rhythm.

And we're looking to do it in a that's for
the oxytocin for communication, calming

the nervous system, and we're doing it in
a place with no negative sensory triggers.

So we're not exacerbating the
existing problem of the overactive

amygdala being triggered by an
over sensitive nervous system.

So that means nature as much as
possible or bringing the outside

inside if we have to be inside.

And then there's a a human environment
as well, of not being an asshole,

basically, so that the the person
doesn't feel under threat and you're not

activating an already overactive amygdala.

And then we once we begin to get these
brain changes through the oxytocin

is the first bit, then there's
BDNF, which is the protein that's

the beginning of neuroplasticity.

This happens through the
activities that we're doing.

Then we feed information in, and we
basically begin to teach academics

first rule based games and then
academics on or with the horse.

And, eventually, the
kid learns to teach us.

And that's horse boy.

So It evolved basically through me doing
that with my son and then realizing

that this was replicable after I got
neuroscientists to explain to me what

was going on with with this oxytocin
and BDNF effect and why the collection

that I had just noticed got me a
better response, just observed it.

Now I knew why it worked, and now I
knew We could go on and do it more.

But at the bottom line, it's
communication, brain change, and then

feeding in information so that life
skills can be taught because as well

as the academics that, bring someone
to a place where they can begin to swim

more effectively in the shark infested
waters of neurotypical humanity.

So, that sort of horse
point in a nutshell.

What's Igala in a nutshell?

In a nutshell, but in a nutshell.

Lynn Thomas: Well and I will say just
even listening to your description

too, and I I think of horse boy
method, um, having that clear identity.

I mean, if Someone is working
with neurotypical, like you said,

and your background and your
experience is really valuable.

So I think first and foremost, both the
Gall and Ollie's organizations that are

training and certifying in different
approaches, Besides the learning that

you get of tools and an understanding
of why it's working like you were just

sharing, here's some of the rationale,
the theoretical frameworks, the the

knowledge base To understand why what
we're doing makes sense to achieve

the goals we're trying to achieve.

So there's that of learning those tools
and that knowledge base and understanding.

But then there's the community of
So I think both the Galen and other

organizations, one, it's providing
a professional community both

to learn from each other, But to
support and uplift one another too.

Especially like you said in the earlier
years, I would say Main objective that

we had with the gala was really getting
that credibility and awareness out

there to the mental health community.

So that's where we started, like, okay.

How can we get mental health people
to start referring to these programs

and, like you say, Insurance or funding
sources to be willing to pay for these

services because it does cost more
When you're incorporating all that

you're incorporating with horses and
and so how can we get that credibility?

And, One, having standards so
that, like I shared earlier, those

standards help achieve that objective.

Having a professional
community so we're not alone.

I mean, when you go to someone say, hey.

I'm one program out there doing this.

That's nice.

But when you say, hey.

There's two thousand People, there's five
hundred programs that are connected with

one another, um, that are doing this work.

All of a sudden, it's like,
Oh, that piques interest.

So I think having a louder voice by having
a community is also really valuable.

Rupert Isaacson: And when you when you
went to the mental health gatekeepers and

said, we have this way of working, what
is it that you're saying you're doing?

We are ameliorating
mental health challenges.

We are ameliorating quality of life.

We are teaching life skills.

We are, healing trauma.

We we are all of the above.

When when you were sitting
in front, What's Igala doing

specifically for the client?

Self regulation, is

Lynn Thomas: it?


And just to share too, I think
that's another great point.

We were very specific that
we're focused on mental health.

So a lot of what's out there kind
of like, well, I do a little bit

of recreational riding for physical
therapy benefits or there's actual

physical therapist There there's
occupational therapists, and there's

so many different types of services.

So I think to having a clear that's
why I said having a clear identity.


We're focused on mental health.

Now people will know us for mental health.

And when you ask specifically
about that what I hear you asking

maybe again is maybe explaining
to the mental Health Committee.

When I go to a conference, here's
what the horse adds to the process.

So we weren't so specific to
mental health saying it's only

this one area of mental health.

We were broad to any psycho cycle
psychological practice out there kinda

thing would, fall under that umbrella.

So mental health is pretty broad,
but it was specific to mental health.

So people are working with
all sorts of different Either

disorders or well-being in general.

So then I hear you saying, well,
what is it that the horse brings?

How why would I take the extra effort,
cost, and logistical struggle to

as a mental health professional to
then involve a horse in the session.

And I guess, does that what
you're say sharing is, like, what

Rupert Isaacson: we would explain?

We would say, well, we can get this
oxytocin and this BDNF, and this

neuroplasticity in a way that we couldn't
quite get it if we didn't do it this way.

We'll get more of it if we do
it this way than if we don't.

Lynn Thomas: And I think, I mean,
I think it'd be I think some of the

knowledge has grown because From what
I recall back in the when we first

started Egala, the knowledge about the
size of the horse I mean, the horse, the

size of the heart of the horse And that
energy field and how that could impact.

And, definitely, there was that how,
yeah, the oxytocin and how we can relax

and how Outcomes our nervous system.

So there was some of that back then that
we could share, but that's really kinda

come along the way, in a bigger way.

And the whole concept of trauma
and and embodiment, And that's

really been more recent as well.

So that's all stuff we can
now add into why horses.

Horses help us physically Engage
with a relationship, and we

can heal through relationship.

There's so much research on that now.

We can heal through Our bodies our
bodies have more knowledge than our

mental heads have about our past
and what we bring into to our lives.

And so, courses can help us do that.

So back then when we first started,
we focused a lot on experiential.

And because that was a big thing back
then too, The value of experiencing,

the value of doing versus just talking.

So we're talking to, but we're also
adding the doing and the physicality

part, And then the value of getting
that feedback, uh, from the horse.

It's like a bio back then,
biofeedback is really big.

So bio it's like a biofeedback
that's alive, though.

That gives us authentic
relationship focused experience.

And then, How we can feel.

And then we would add into
the engagement factor.

If people are not engaged in
treatment, If they don't stick with

it, if they don't want to come, then
they're not gonna get the benefits.

So horses have An ability to engage.

Rupert Isaacson: Makes people wanna
come back and complete the Yeah.

The program.

Lynn Thomas: Yeah.

They wanna come back.

They wanna see their horse Connections
their relationships are starting to make.

They want to learn.

So, I mean, that's that
can't be underestimated,

the value of the engagement

Rupert Isaacson: factor.



I just wrote down while you
were talking the the the note

that I wrote engagement to.

This is under dynamic response,
but healing through relationship.

So when I say, well,
what is it Igala does?

And I I think then if, let's
say, I was going out as your rep.

So, well, gosh.

I've gotta go give a little
talk now on Lynn's thing.


Again, I'm busily taking notes about
what she's saying, but dynamic response

healing through relationship engagement.

So because healing through
relationship can cover so many things.


That is oxytocin.

That is serotonin.

That is brain change and neuroplasticity.

That is BDNF.

That is axons and dendrites.

That is all those things and
it's also the nervous system.

It's the vagus nerve.

It's so one could break it
down into that biological okay.

This is why it works in
the sort of Lego pieces.

But healing through relationship is,
I think, a concept that anybody can

get because I think given that we
are relationship animals ourselves,

The worst thing one can do to a human
is put them in solitary confinement.

We know this.

That healing through relationship
with an animal that doesn't

press your mirror neurons, but
does give you dynamic feedback.

iF you and I, You're my therapist.

I'm your therapist.

We're relating to each other as human
beings in a way that could get in the way.

With a horse.


And we we found this, obviously, with
autism that because the horse doesn't

have these bazillion facial muscles
that are so incredibly confusing

to someone who's already having
trouble reading human faces anyway.

The the horse presents a simpler,
easier to understand thing.

This has come out later.

Do you think it could be true
that, people who are dealing

with compromised mental health.

Because they're humans, Their healing
has to come through relationship, but

relationship with another human is going
to bring all the baggage that it cannot be

avoided emotionally, yet a horse will not.

Do you think that there's a value in that?

Do you think that that is
a a factor of the success?

Because this has been successful.

Igala is a thing.

Lynn Thomas: YEah.

I mean, I think that's that was probably
one of our biggest Points not with

all the wonderful scientific knowledge
of the body and the brain that you

were sharing there, but back then,
that idea of having A relationship

with a being that's nonjudgmental.

They don't come with our biases.

They don't come with
the same human agendas.

They don't know what your background,
whether you're rich or poor, and what

your academic experience is and knowledge.

So that was definitely An appealing
element because, yeah, that does make

a difference to have a relationship
with someone that isn't judging you

and telling you you're wrong and bad
and those kinds of and you're making

me think of I probably I mean, my
elevator speech probably, changed a

bit, and especially has changed now.

I'm definitely more focused on
On the relationship component

than I used to be and benefit of
horses and the calming, Factor.

In the early days of a gala, a lot
of it was focused, like I said, on

doing problem solving activities.

And that idea of as you work through these
problems And solve them and find your

ways of solving them, not someone else.

You discover your own ways so that
That journey of self discovery, of

problem solving, of building resilience,
that kind of concept was some of it.

And then the other thing was
and and interesting, I think

that's still part of it.

I don't think for me, that's
as big of a part anymore.

But the other thing I would say to
people, they say, oh, what do you know?

Oh, I involve horses for mental health.

Oh, so you're, like, riding and stuff.


Actually, we don't ride at all.

They're not usually oh, yeah.


So you're, like, petting them and
feeding them, taking care of them.

Oh, actually, what we're doing is
horses, as a prey animal, are really

good at reading their environments,
And they're very sensitive to

what's going on around them.

So and they all have different
personalities as well.

So when you're engaging with horses, They
end up responding to you in ways that

might feel familiar to other relationships
you're having in your life and maybe

the struggles you're having with your
children or with your coworkers or and

I said, and so we're able to deal in a
really safe way because the horses end up

responding a way that feel kinda similar.

So we can then work through
those relationship struggles on a

really safe way with the horses.

And then they go, oh, so they
could be like my My children,

I'm gonna be like, yeah.

It's really and think, oh, wow.

That sounds interesting.

So that seemed to peak people's interest
that maybe The the parallel to the

relationship with the horse might be a
parallel to other relationships seem to

Rupert Isaacson: connect.


Allegorical but but but also real.

Give me an example of a go to problem
solving exercise that somebody

might use with with your the with
the modalities that you evolved.

Lynn Thomas: Right.

And just so you know, I'm gonna say what
I'm doing now is different, has evolved.


So I'm gonna tell you from the
beginning, but now Equinix.

I'm gonna do

Rupert Isaacson: We're still
we're still back in Igala.

Lynn Thomas: We're still in the past,
but I I mean, again and I'll I I it's

not that there's not value to all of
this, but I think What the way I've

mostly shifted now is more the thought
process behind what you're doing.


But back then, we were
teaching specific activities.

Here's an activity you can do, and
simple as Go catch and halter a horse,

but they don't know how to use a halter.

Here's a jump, and have this
horse go over this jump.

How a horse go through this path.

And so it was more that there wasn't
necessarily a real connection to

relationship back then as much as it
was, here's an activity to try, and

the horse isn't always gonna do what
you wanna do, so you're gonna struggle.

And, Um, and you're gonna need you
know, you can work out you have

the opportunity to work out how to
achieve this objective with this

horse And find your way of doing it.

Rupert Isaacson: I presume you
did you give them any basic safety

tips, like don't shove a fork up
their ass, or something like that?

I mean, Did did you or do
people really go in cold?

Lynn Thomas: iT really would
depend on the practitioner.


I mean, there would be an
informed consent and talk about

horses, uh, to a level extent.

But for most So that it was really
being open because wanting to see the

real them without too much influence
on us, but then we can intervene.



And say, hey.

Let's just kinda check out if you
notice what the horse's response

was to what you did there.

Rupert Isaacson: And you you wouldn't
say, for example, get this horse over

your this jump that represents your
relationship with your mother, or the

jump is your mother, or the The horse
is your mother, and the jump is you.

You weren't introducing
any language like that.

You were just simply saying, observe
what happens when you try to do this,

Lynn Thomas: basically.

So yeah.


We would use metaphorical
language like that too.

So if if they're having a
struggle with family or work,

maybe that jump is that struggle.



And and

Rupert Isaacson: so would the
company the struggle, or would

would the horse be the struggle?

Lynn Thomas: The horse could be.


Like, I remember, because we had with
substance abuse issues, and she really

wanted to get A relationship with this
one horse, um, and there was a horse that

kept coming between her and that horse.

And yeah.

So the horse that she really
wanted to get was her sobriety, but

there was another horse that kept
coming between her and that horse.

And so she labeled that horse, Um,
her friends, her peer pressures

that gets her to wanna use.

And then there was a horse that would
come up and just kept bumping behind

her, like, putting its nose on her
back, nudging her, and she ended up

labeling, that's her mom that keeps
bugging her to make better decisions.

And then that kinda plays
out, Um, that scenario.

So And she

Rupert Isaacson: offered those mentors
herself rather than the therapist

saying, do you think that that horse
coming between you and the other

horse could be your friends, your
peers blocking you from sobriety.


Was that suggested to her or that
she came up with that spontaneously?

Lynn Thomas: Yeah.

Well and the facilitators
may would check-in about it.

But, yeah, They wouldn't put the idea
with the model was that we don't put our

perceptions and our judgments and our
interpretations on what's happening that

we really want it to be open for the
client to put their interpretations on it.

And did you ever That that would
probably that's a main premise.

Did you find

Rupert Isaacson: people resistant
to to that, or did you find that

actually the horses made you talked
about engagement, that the horses

got brought that out of people in a
way that perhaps humans would not.

Like, I could imagine taking a bunch of
humans into a room with, say, a bunch

of cardboard boxes and say, build a
house out of these cardboard boxes, and

them doing it because they're there.

Why not?

But maybe not wanting to come up with
those allegories themselves because

at the end of the day, You represent
an authority figure that they might

want to resist or something like that.

Whereas with the horse, I could see that
that's taken out of the picture, and that

neutralizes those I mean, why do you think
that people would come up spontaneously

and engage spontaneously with their own
challenges in that kind of a frank and

open candid way more easily in that Equine

Lynn Thomas: environment.

I think I mean, can you can picture
yourself sitting in front of in an

office, for instance, and saying, okay.

What are the struggles in your life?

What's blocking you from
your success To sobriety.

Like and it's kinda
like, well, I don't know.

Or I maybe not be thinking of everything.

So I think And it's all in your head too.

So I could say the right things.

I could believe it in my head even.


It doesn't mean our body believes it.

And so

Rupert Isaacson: You can
manipulate a human therapist too.

I guess you can't manipulate a horse.



Lynn Thomas: Right.

And so and you can't I I mean, you're
not training these horses to do that.

People are like, oh, you train the horses.



They're not trained to do this.

They're being themselves, and
they just Happened to be playing

out whatever that's going to be
bringing up for you, right, for them.

So I think, one, the horses start, doing
things that are a catalyst for awareness

of things that kinda reside deep inside
that we might not even be thinking of.

All of a sudden, when this one's
bumping up against me, oh, it

makes me think of this, and maybe I
wasn't consciously thinking of that.


And so I think and then they then we're
not just thinking it, we're feeling it.

And we're not just feeling it, we're
seeing it outside of ourselves.

So So it's not just residing in here.

I now see it externalized for myself.

And now I can do some I can you can say,
oh, let's Work on my feelings inside.

That's very abstract.

But now my feelings are out here
in the in the body of a horse.

I That horse is struggling.

I can go pet the horse.

I can move the horse.

I can do something with that feeling.

And as I'm doing something with that,
I'm feeling it deep inside my body too.

So I think there's that element of it
being so, yes, you can do projection

stuff inside your office with the
painting or with the sand tray or with

play or whatever too, but you don't get
the characters are not responding back.

The characters are not making
choices Outside of your choices.


That's what the horses can add to
the experience that brings up things

you may not have been thinking

Rupert Isaacson: about.

Do you think that you talk
you used the word catalytic.

Do you think that that horses make people
more are catalyzers for human curiosity?

Do you think they make people more
curious about themselves and what's

going on with themselves because they're
intrinsically Curious about what the horse

is thinking and doing because the horse
is such a compelling and iconic creature.

Do you think why do you think why
do you think a horse is catalytic

to making somebody more curious and
inquire inquiring maybe is perhaps a

better word about their condition than
they would be if there was no horse.

Lynn Thomas: Yeah.

I think curiosity is a big thing.

And, actually, with what I'm doing
now, that's actually a really big focus

too of what we have about how they do.

They are a catalyst for our Curiosity
our natural innate curiosity.

Like, that's why we watch
TV show movies and books.

Like, what's gonna happen next?


It's that desire to kinda understand
what the future may be too.

So I think horses absolutely spark
Our natural curiosity because they do

like I said, they do things that we're
not necessarily asking them to do.

They do the opposite maybe of
what we think we're asking them

to do, And that is surprising.

That's novel.

That sparks, um, those feelings inside
of us that make us more open to learning

as well as you mentioned all the
natural calming effects that they have.

They also sparked that curiosity
and sense of surprise and novelty

that, like, oh, I didn't expect that.

Oh, I didn't know they would do that.


You think it's taking my my my
perspective in a whole new direction.

Rupert Isaacson: Right.


Because I'm I'm just thinking
about, say, dogs, for example.


The, the the social
predators who strategize.

Their eyes are in front.

They they have social structures that
are quite similar to ours, There's

even a theory that we learned to become
hunters when we came down from the

trees by watching and emulating hyenas,
interestingly interestingly enough.

There's there's there's a whole
branch of paleontology around that.

And that that one can see a little
bit because when somebody has a dog,

you don't really need a background
in dogs to be able to train a dog to

basic functionality, uh, intuitively
because the dog kinda wants to do

A dog is mirroring you to a large
degree, but horses don't, of course.

And the word that came
up for me is enigmatic.

Do you think that one of the reasons
why they spark our curiosity so much

is because they are enigmas, because
they don't respond like we respond.

They don't respond, but
sometimes they do a bit.

But on the whole, they are so their
own thing that they rather like an

enigma in one's life that one can't
understand, once addiction, once

dysfunctions, once impulses that
seem to come almost from outside.

Or even if they can't seem to come
from inside, Why can't we control them?

Blah blah blah.

That's an enigma in and of itself.


Horses are enigmatic.

They don't we can't read
necessarily their facial emotion.

Like, you can read a dog's facial
emotions immediately without

needing to to be trained in dogs.

But horses, you actually need some
training to be able to read Of course.


What I'm fishing for here is do you
think that one of the reasons why

they spark an unusual amount or they
catalyze an An unusual amount of

curiosity in a human inquiring after
their mental health is because of this

enigmatic quality that they are enigmas

Lynn Thomas: to us.


I'd love that thought, and I
absolutely think that's true.

So, when we talk about our the some
of the new adventures I'm doing With

Arenas for Change, we are actually
broadening to not just horses.

And we just did our first scene through
dogs focusing on dogs, corporate dogs

and and mental health, well-being,
coaching, um, those kinda education.

So and it was really interesting
to me, like, for For instance, just

something, one, dogs are more familiar.

Do you see a lot more
dogs around in cities too?

Like, I think there's a because
of that level of familiarity

versus horses, for most people,
there's that Much less familiarity.

So that novelty and that somewhat
intimidate you know, that's a little

bit more scary to go into an environment
that you don't Know or understand,

but that's, of course, one like you
said, one of the values of life.

Technically, we think we're in control
of our lives, And we think we're

predicting everything next, but so
often, life is entering into the unknown.


And I think entering into that
experience with horses For a lot

of people, one is the unknown.

And the other thing I else with
dogs besides the familiarity is

a lot of the time they're short.

They're small.

You're sitting on the ground.

You're bending over.

You're not moving as much.

Whereas horses, your
your whole body changes.


That's true.


You're up.

You're moving.

You're walking.

There's a lot more space.

Of course, it's easier for you
moving in a lot more space.



anD so I think just that change in dynamic
makes a difference in how our bodies

move, how our bodies react and respond.

And then, yeah, because horses are the
unknown, the unfamiliar, and then they

aren't maybe quite as readily Desire
is to please us, essay, like the dogs.


I do absolutely think they
they respond in ways Equinix.

Even for experienced horse professionals.


Like, they don't always respond in the
ways we think they're gonna respond.

Oh, no.

And that's why they always
say, you have to be so present.

You have to really build on the moment.

You really have to be listening to
the horse because They're not going

to react in ways as predictably Yeah.

As, for instance, dogs might Might do.

So they do require us and
they could hurt us more.

I mean, dogs can bite us.

But, They're a lot bigger, so we have
to be a little bit more I think it no.

We don't have to, but I think it
encourages us To be a little bit more

present, a little bit more on our
guard, perhaps, but it teaches us more

to be more present and listen than
I think some other animals because

Rupert Isaacson: of that.

I agree.

I agree.

The one one of the things we began
to understand with neuroscience and

what we do with Hors Boy was that this
this protein in the brain, BDNF, brain

derived neurotrophic factor, one of five
neurotrophins, but mostly just creating

more cells in the nervous system.

This one is specific to brain cells.

We do it when we move and
problem solve at the same time.

And, um, one of the things we
realized we'd stumbled into through

work with horses was that because,
as you say, you have to do all this

normal movement with your body.

You have to do more movement
because you gotta walk more.

You gotta run more.

You gotta And when you're on them,
you've got balance and you've got to

that there's a problem to be solved
at every turn that people's intellects

come alive around horses, perhaps
because of, among other things, the

fact that they have to move and problem
solve so much, and then this creates

neuroplasticity, positive neuroplasticity.

But I and so I suppose the idea of
dealing with an enigma, a moving

enigma that gives you feedback
that you can't quite understand is

automatically, I'm gonna give you this
brain derived neurotrophic factor.


It's gonna give you this brain effect
because your brain's just gonna have

to be on firing, firing, firing.

And, also, with that little
bit of cortisol, that little

bit of stress hormone going.

I also need to stay
alive in this situation.

There's no direct threat yet,
but I know it could go into that.

There's always the latent potential
that it could go into that.

So therefore, I'm I'm I'm
paying particular attention.

I'm on high alert.

One last question before because
I want to now move on a little bit

to where you what you're doing now.

diD you ever encounter with the Igala work
people becoming frustrated with the the

very fact that horses are enigmatic and
lashing out at becoming violent with or

venting their frustration on the horses.

Lynn Thomas: Yes.


I think for the most part as
facilitators with with clients, you

can kinda see that threshold both
with the horses and with the clients.

And that's where, again,
you kinda saw, hey.

Let's come in.

Let's and that, again,
brings down that That thing.

But that's, I mean, that's part of how
horses bring out our authentic selves too.

If If that I mean, we
actually had a member.

We would do staff trainings.

We would do staff hiring with the horses.

And remember this one staff got frustrated
with the horse and hit it, plopped it.

Didn't really hurt the horse.


Horses can take a lot.

But it was like, if that's
what you do when you're These

kids are gonna frustrate you.

I guarantee it.

This probably is not this is not the right
fit of of an environment for for you at

this stage in your life where you're at.

So, yeah.

I mean, it definitely horses Horses
are authentic, and I think they can

push us and bring out some of our
authentic sides that maybe sides

that we don't even wanna look at.



And I think that's where it's
important to have facilitators

that do have that training.

Like, okay.

What's important is how we respond
to that, what we do with that.

And, yes, we're always keeping
in mind the welfare of the horse.

Are are the horses getting too maybe
this horse is sick of this person

too, Um, and how we can create that
space where the horses can have

choice and take care of their needs.

Rupert Isaacson: How how are typically
horses in a Niigala program being kept?

Like, for that reason, if they need to
be particularly authentic, Do you then

require that they live in herds so that
they rather than boxes, for example,

so that they are more authentic or that
they live outside rather than inside?

But, of course, That's not always
possible, say, for example,

if you have an urban program.

So how do you how do you, a, ensure the
authenticity of the horse's personality

to be as naturalistic as possible.

And then how do you also look
after the welfare of the horse in

terms of the intensity, emotional
intensity of what's going on.

Do they cycle in and out of the program?

Do they do a certain number of
sessions and then take a break?

Like, What what what thought
processes are behind that?

Lynn Thomas: So how we address that?

Because like you said, there's so many
different perspectives and environments

And and to not be too prescriptive.


But one, we'd say, okay.

There's ethical codes and
welfare codes out there.

There's the American Horse
Council's welfare code.

There's the I know in Europe, they
have their The codes out there.

So one, people would sign that they're,
one, aware of these codes, and two, follow

these codes, And that that's part of
their mindfulness about the environment.

I mean, two, we're training that
how you Keep your horses gives a

message to how you're gonna take
care of your clients and what kind

of safe is this a safe environment?

So that consciousness about that.

So that's part of the training, and it's
part of the commitment and the actual

role of the equine specialist that they're
committed to as an equine specialist.

But, Again, like I said, it's never I
mean, people have different opinions.

That's what I've learned
in the horse world.

I go here, and this is, like, abusive.

And over here, they They
don't think that's abusive.

Like, it's it's that thing.

So we kinda try to honor the
diversity that's out there.

In one country, how they keep horses
may be just absolutely appalling to

someone else in another country even.

So I think Having those I I think those
welfare codes codes that have come out

have been really well written, and, it's
kinda more like, here's considerations.

And so no.

I mean, we encourage that horses
Artist natural and authentically

themselves, which by the way, when we
first started, Gallo was cutting edge.

Like, the idea of horses being able
to be themselves was like, What?

That's you know?

Because they're they need to be
trained, and they need to be horses

have to act this certain way.

And and so the idea of just natural
horses, letting horses be themselves,

and how to create that environment is
just, For me, a lot of great discussion,

consideration, how can we keep doing that.

So I think it's something that's
a prominent What we did in a gala

was a prominent consideration
that we actually taught.

We want horses to be authentically
themselves, but how can they be

healthy Authentically themselves.

I mean, I went to a barn.

We went to do a training one time, and the
horses were so they're competitive horses.

I won't say because I don't wanna dis
on anybody, but they're competitive

horses, and they were So, like,
the idea of being free in a space

with other horses was not possible.


Because they were never
allowed to do that.

And that doesn't fit for us.

And in fact, the the facility owner
said, well, we can drug them to be Able

to be doing this, and I was like, okay.

If if a horse has to be drugged to be
able to be free and naturally itself

with other herd members, then, this
is not this horse can't do this work.


The horse the horse is now a client.

That right directly in the manual.

You I was like, okay.

I never encountered that before.

That was extreme, but I was like, okay.

Rupert Isaacson: Yeah.

But these things inform one.

Do do do now or did it evolve to a point
with a gala where people had to prove

that they were keeping their horses in
a certain way for you to certify them?

Or, Like, did they have to show
video or anything like that of their

horsekeeping environments or submit,
I don't know, their training programs

or their their their horse welfare and
care program or that sort of thing.

Or Was it to some degree left on trust,
but you recommended those guidelines

and and taught those guidelines?

Lynn Thomas: So we decided, yeah,
to not go that route because of the

logistics of that at at a larger scale,
especially, and the cost of that.

So we went the route of
people signing a commitment.


And and then having a system in
place, So ethics process committee

where people could make complaints.


There was if they did encounter something
they disagreed or felt was unsafe and

didn't consider the welfare of the horse.

So we had a system in place
to actually address Those.

And, usually, it would involve, like,
if if one like that came in, it would

involve maybe asking that a veterinarian
goes out and does a check Aquinas.

Letter from the veterinarian.

And, so we did that's how we decided
to handle it back with Ygawa.

Rupert Isaacson: Right.


That makes sense.

So but if if there was a a complaint,
then you could do follow-up.





We talked a lot about Igala.

Clearly, you're somebody who not
only a good Systems Thinker, but

when you come up with a good system,
you then create other good systems.

I know a few people like you.

It's a great quality.

And so you haven't rested on your laurels
with Agala, which you could have done.

It's a very, very successful model.

It's helped thousands,
hundreds of thousands probably

of people around the world.

You are now doing these two
interesting new things, arenas for

change and horses for mental health.

I Want you to tell us about them and
what they do, but first what prompted

you to change gears like this?

Lynn Thomas: Yeah.

I mean, Yeah.

I had the opportunity and this
amazing journey starting at E Gala

back in nineteen ninety nine And
then evolving through that with

that, evolving the model, and up
until the end of twenty twenty.

And it was kinda one of those things of
unanticipated life events and at the same

time, things going where they need to go.

We talked earlier.

I think you mentioned about the systems
focus, and I have a systems mindset maybe.

But I think that kind of explains
a lot too of As, one evolves and

maybe that the organization and what
involves and what's a fit anymore.

And and I did have some new interests,
new ideas along with just kinda

things weren't connecting anymore.

So And, of course, Zigal is a
nonprofit, and there's a board, and

and they have the authority of things.

And so it was kinda one of those
scenarios of, well, is this a fit anymore?

Ultimately, the end of twenty twenty,
myself and a wonderful team of people

did leave eGala and decide to start
on these new projects that That

you're mentioning, and that was really
exciting for me because I had some

interest and some passions that weren't
quite a fit anymore in the system.

That was a gala.

And, again, a wonderful system
and and a place for that.

And, we been twenty one years, so
it's time to maybe do something

new and start on some new projects.

So that's where it went, and It was
first the first project was forces

for mental health that I think I'll
go ahead and mention if you think.


Rupert Isaacson: Please do.

I'm I'm I'll

Lynn Thomas: wait.

Because that was one of the big
passions that I was having is I was

really I mean, we talked about really
trying to get the mental health

community and the public start to
have more awareness An understanding

of this type of work and that there
is credibility to this type of work.

And I think we've come a long way Since
the nineteen nineties when it really

started more in a more formal way.

But we have a long ways to go.

And There was a vision that I was having
along with my cofounder, Jackie Balmer

of horses for mental health, to really
start a public awareness Campaign in a way

that would take things to another level.

I mean, ultimately, there's a
lot of people out there who still

don't know that horses' Programs
involving mental health services

and corporate harnesses even exist.

They don't know anything
about horses as well.

So we thought, What can we do to
get the word out in a bigger way?

So we started horses for mental
health as a nonprofit organization

to amplify awareness of the work that
we do and to also support All the

many grassroots programs out there
providing these services because it's

a big sacrifice to do these programs.

There's a lot of expense running a
horse farm As you were just you know?

I know you came in from the
snow and and things like that.

So We have been swimming

Rupert Isaacson: in poo today.

Lynn Thomas: Yes.

It's it's Yeah.

So there's a lot to it, and I think
anything we can do as a sector to support

one another, uplift one another, and
help these programs, Who are pioneering

the way to to bring in more funding.

So so we started horses for mental
health with that first that that vision.

And with the plan, the way of going
about doing that is to do a national

and hopefully, eventually, global
Awareness and fundraising campaign

as a collaborative effort through
all the leading organizations, other

businesses, membership organizations,
us all collaborating together,

and then along with the programs
Altogether because when we're working

together, our voice is louder.


And we get more credibility,
and we get more recognition.

And so we started doing this
awareness campaign called the

seen three horses campaign.

Tell us about that.

So the seen three horses campaign
is We call a peer to peer

awareness and fundraising campaign.

And what that mean is I I
explain it a couple ways.

One, for people who have Been on
Facebook and which might be most of

most of the people, but have been on
Facebook, and they see people with,

oh, for my birthday, I want to raise
money for this cause I believe in.


Well, when they do that, not only are
they raising money for the cause they

believe They're bringing awareness to
all their friends and their network.


There's this cause that
exists, and I believe in it.


And all of a sudden,
their friends went, what?

Oh, there's a cause that I
may not have known about.

And so that's what we're trying
to do is create this kind of

peer to peer network campaign.

So, it's sometimes a little hard to
explain, but, ultimately, what we're

doing is we're collaborating with
the leading, Different organizations

in the sector so that they can reach
out to their network of programs.

So, like, with your organization,
Rupert, with, Path International or the

Heard Institute, Natural Livemanship,
and Polyvaginal Equine Institute, and

of course, Arenas for Change and other
organizations, American Horse Council,

Horse Human Research Foundation.

And I know that will keep growing
each year, but When we're all working

together, first of all, and say, hey.

Let's do something that's gonna
amplify awareness, then we can go to

sponsors, and we can go to Supporters
or influencers and celebrities say, hey.

While maybe we just have a network of
Two thousand or five thousand people.


That's nice.

They're not gonna really
pay much attention.

But now when we're working
together, oh, now we suddenly have

a network of three hundred thousand.


Now let's involve the
grassroots programs too.


Now we have a network of five
hundred thousand and a and a reach.

Next thing the businesses
and the sponsors pay a little

more attention, and say, okay.


We wanna get on board with this.

We'll support this.

And so what we're doing with horses for
mental health is doing all that legwork,

creating the infrastructure to put on
an awareness and fundraising campaign.

And what that means is we are Creating
a fundraising plat or providing a

fundraising platform for nonprofit
and other organizations who provide

services to be able to utilize.

We're providing And creating
videos of stories of transformation

because stories are so powerful.

We're creating quality professionally
made videos that programs can share.

We create a whole Calendar of here's
what you can post on your social media,

and we're bringing in media attention.

We're bringing in celebrities,
influencers, we're doing this

altogether during the month of May.

We we decided to go with May, which
is mental health awareness month.


We we did our first one in October of
twenty twenty two for one week, and

it went much better than expected,
but we also realized one week was

not enough time to really Mobilize
everyone, get all this information.

We had all these videos to share,
and it was just like a frenzy.

So we decided to make it a full month.

May was chosen, um, and we did our
second one in twenty twenty three.

And in that process, the
nonprofit organizations are

raising money for themselves.

They're creating teams of people.


We have a Fundraising team, ambassadors
that are going out and saying, hey.

I believe in this cause,
this particular program.

They involve horses for
mental health and well-being.

Please support them by donating
money to them, and then that's

spreading awareness at the same time.

And so they're raising money.

It's getting more awareness.

The celebrities and influencers
that we got on board are also

posting on their social media to
their one million Followers or

hundreds of thousands of followers.

Hey, everybody.

That you may have never even heard
of this before, but I believe

in the power of horses that the
horses can impact people's lives.

And there are programs out there who
provide these services, and it's something

you might wanna check into and support.

So are we just getting a lot broader
a lot More quickly and by working

together, we're all stronger.

Rupert Isaacson: Let me ask you
a couple of questions on this

because, if I hope that listeners'
ears are breaking up on this one.

So let me just translate what you just
heard a little bit my listeners, if

you are running an equine assisted
program somewhere, which you may

well be, um, and you are on the
hunt for cash, which you will be.

Basically, what Lynn is saying is that
here's a fundraising program for you and

an awareness raising raising program for
you and also, a celebrity involvement, um,

a program for you without you having to do
much more than do what you do and be who

you are, she's creating a wonderful plan.

This isn't this is incredible.

This is this is something
absolutely groundbreaking.

So now I've got a couple
of practical questions.


So I'm driving my car.

I'm going, oh my gosh.

I've got this, a a quantitative program
over here in this place that I live.

And, um, how do I, as a small, um,
struggling, uh, equine assisted program,

uh, get in contact with horses for
mental health and get myself up on this

seen through horses thing because when
you talk about going through the larger

organizations even if it's a smaller
organization like mine, like Horsepower

Foundation or whatever, um, obviously, we
have a set each one has a certain number

of programs under their AEGIS, under their
umbrella, but we all know that there's a

lot of programs out there struggling by
themselves, and we also know that the the

larger organizations can be very political
and often factional one to the other

unfortunately, but it's human nature.

And scarcity mentality can very quickly
kick in, and people start trying to

block each other from because they they
think, oh, it's you know, there's just a

a a certain pot of money out there and,
if they get it, then I won't get it.

We know that that's erroneous.


But we know, unfortunately, that
that has led to a certain toxicity

within our own world of the Equinixys.

What what I love about what you're doing
is you're going over that and saying, no.



Chaps, we gotta stand together.

So but if someone is not necessarily
affiliated with a big organization,

even if they are, but they want to act
independently or reach out themselves

to horses for mental health, how do they

Lynn Thomas: do that?


And I love what you're sharing there
because I think with this kind of

infrastructure like this, we're creating a
platform for collaboration and that, Yeah.

Getting over that mindset of scarcity
into a rising tide lifts all boats.

When we work together, we're all
stronger, and we're all more successful.

So people can con go to our website,
horses for mental health dot org.

You can get information
there or our social media.

Sign up for our email list so that you're
staying updated on what we're doing.

Because like I said, we just
started in twenty twenty one.

And I'll I'll be I I actually was
because this has been a vision for the

last, I don't know, five or something
years, and it just has been block

after block and hasn't been happening.

And We started horses for mental health
as the structure for it to happen

in, and then all of a sudden, things
started happening that I I was It was

like it was meant to be kinda thing.

We got a wonderful sponsor, Zoetis,
which is an animal pharmaceutical

company, And they've been so supportive.

And as we've partnered with Equine
Network, which is a equine media

company, and they do events as well
and have a lot of publications.

And between those relationships,
gave us the resources and to be able

to move forward with this project.

And we're always trying we're
we're coming up with new ideas.

It's gonna grow each year.

So get on our mailing list.

That's step one.

Go to horses for mental health dot org.

Get on our mailing list.

Keep up with our emails
and and our announcements.

We are gearing up for our twenty twenty
four campaign, Which will be in May.

However applications to be a charity
partner, which is one of the grassroots

one of your programs, Maybe you wanna
get involved formally as a charity

partner, which means you're gonna
set up a team, and you're gonna be

part of the fundraising efforts.

The fundraising goes to your
program that you do, Um, but we

provide all the resource resources,
and we provide training for you.

The applications are happening
right now until January

twenty second is The deadline.



So I don't know when this is coming
out, but but just keep on our

Rupert Isaacson: mailing list.

We will put this out as
quickly as we can then.

We we are now in December, what is it?

December sixth that we're
having this conversation?

And you're saying January
the what is the deadline?

Lynn Thomas: Twenty sec I
think January twenty second.

We got about

Rupert Isaacson: six weeks
from this conversation Yeah.


Lynn Thomas: deadline.

Now I'm gonna preface this as
saying that right now, for the

charity partners, we are US focused.

And, um, for this year,
again, we're gonna be US.

So if you're a US based program now
the reason is just because of our

resources and being able to Support
the programs so that you are as

successful as possible in the campaign.

However, it is our vision, and I'm hoping
in twenty twenty five That we will expand

it to include several different yeah.

The globe.

We wanna include the globe and be able
to have the resources to Support each of

the programs in in the campaign journey.


Rupert Isaacson: Well, maybe that's a
conversation that you and I can have then

because, obviously, with Horse Boy, we we
work in quite a few countries and there's

different needs and different setups in
each place, it varies quite a lot how

things present which I find fascinating.

But I would imagine that the corporate
structures in in terms of looking for

sponsors and celebrities, we could
widen our net considerably if we were

to look in different nationalities
for that as well particularly Germany.


I know that that would be very I
mean, but also Ireland is extremely

cutting edge when it comes to, uh,
institutional support of equine

programs, unusually so, I I I've been
rather amazed in in the work there.

Also the UK, also the Netherlands
Scandinavia, etcetera.

So maybe we should have that conversation.

But okay.

Listeners, if you are a US based equine
organization, get onto this horses for

mental health website and start looking
because this could really help you.

Also, my what I would
also say is do not panic.

And if you and try desperately
to get in by next May.

If you realize that it's gonna
take a little more time, let

it take a little more time.

Presume you'll be doing one in
twenty twenty five as well, Lynn.

Is that

Lynn Thomas: correct?


Our goal is that this is an annual event,
and, The experience with other sectors

who've done these types of things, so
other nonprofit sectors, nothing like

this has actually been done in the
equine industry that we're aware of.

So this has been cutting edge and
to get some of the companies and

everybody on board to understand what
we're trying to do in the vision.

So that's why it's been so great that
Zoetis and network jumped on board

really quickly for a brand new, and
we were brand new organization too.

So that was exciting.

And it will grow each year.

And I think the main thing is even
if you're not formal charity partner

being part of that aspect of it,
the vision of this is to amplify

awareness, and we can all do that.

If we're all sharing on our social media,
we're creating these wonderful videos.

And if you find a video that you see
that is touches you and represents

your program well and the kind of
work that you do, Please share it.

Put it on your website.

Share it on social media.

And when we're especially doing
altogether, it impacts the algorithms

and I that's all Language I don't really
know, but I have this amazing team who

has background and experience doing these
kinds of large Sector wide campaigns,

and they are absolutely amazing.

So please share it.

Get involved in spreading the
word because, again, it lifts all

of our programs when we do that.

I think

Rupert Isaacson: what we should do,
Lynn, if it's alright with you then, is

every year, when you begin the horses
for mental health call for submissions,

um, I think we should do this podcast.

I think we should repeat this because
each year, there'll be new people

coming in, and this is a call to arms,
which I think can't just happen once.

I think, we need to get as
much media behind it as we can.

You talked about celebrities.

wHat celebrity involvement
have you managed to get so far?

Lynn Thomas: Yeah.

We've for especially being so
new, we've gotten some wonderful

celebrities and influence involved.

Probably the more well known,
maybe, Randy Travis Okay.

The country singer.

Tanya Tucker, country singer.

We have some other actors,
Riley Smith, born boy sorry.

Bork Floyd Sophie Grace, And
then we have others, singers.

We have a, Emmy award winning fashion
designer, Um, songwriter, people

like that that have been really,
really supportive along the way.

So We also I mean, it's funny.

I was on a podcast, um, where they asked
me, who would I wanna go meet dinner Go

to dinner with and I do not know why this
came out of my mouth because, like, okay.

I coulda said, like, mother
Teresa or the pope or something.


I said, Kevin Costner.

I said Kevin Costner.

I don't know.

It's like, oh, I'm a big fan.

Yellowstone, I'm a fan of Yellowstone.

Wouldn't it be so cool if we could get
the Cast of Yellowstone on board with

because they've really, opened up that
western genre and the horses again

out there in the world in a big way.

I agree.

And well, sure enough, we happen
to get Forrie j Smith on board.

He is one of the cast members of
Yellowstone, and that was in our this

year's Twenty twenty three campaign,
and I was just, like, so excited.

And we're excited because then, of
course, that that connects us to,

Two other cast members and and, of
course, the director and producer.

So, very excited about the possibilities
there, but We know it'll keep

growing because word spreads, and
then we get credibility that this is

a legit and a successful campaign.

And, again, what's been neat and what
my team has shared with me too with

compared to other campaigns, what they've
experienced is, One, the collaborative

energy in our sector has been amazing.


One of the biggest challenges of putting
on campaigns is exactly what you said.

One, the competitive nature and
the scarcity mindset and people

not wanting to collaborate.

And we haven't experienced that with
our programs and with our organizations

out there, there has been an embrace
of this campaign, which has been so

fun and so exciting and And gratifying
that people hold those values.

And then the second thing is with
the celebrities and influencers

is how excited and passionate
they have been to get on board.

Again, a lot of times their experience in
other campaigns have been you really have

to it's really not easy to get to get them
on board and these kind of campaigns, and

then to actually post and be active in it.


And we've experienced the opposite.

They they are passionate about
horses, and they are passionate

about mental health, and that has
really gotten people on board.

And they have posted, and
they have shared videos.

And it has been absolutely
a phenomenal experience.

So we know that it's just
gonna keep growing each year.

Rupert Isaacson: So the bottom line is
is someone could be driving in their car

right now, who's running a program, right,
and could basically have you or horses

for mental health, you, being Horses for
Mental Health, effectively fundraised

for them, an awareness raise for them,
and alongside with them, everybody else

in our I hate to call it industry, but
let's say in our field, I don't think

I've heard of anybody doing anything like
this outside of private philanthropy,

where perhaps someone really hears about
a particular program and says, okay.

I'm gonna get behind this.

But somebody who's struggling
could contact horses for mental

health, create a video, submit it.

And have you stand a chance of having
you guys help them take their course to

the wider audience, is is is that right?

Lynn Thomas: Yeah.

And and I appreciate that you
can clarify because we're not

doing For, we're doing it with.


And I think that's really important
because I think sometimes we're

like, oh, we're gonna just come be
a charity partner, and we'll just

Do nothing, and somehow money's
just gonna miraculously come to us.


This is about all of us
putting in the effort.


We're just creating an education.

We're providing the Creating the platform,
we're creating the infrastructure.

So, I I'm glad you you clarified
That part of it because, it's

not just we're directing money.

It's like by doing it
together, by you posting.

You you take the effort To schedule
some posts or share with your

friends or put in an email, hey.

This work is powerful, Then that that's
meaningful, but it does take time.


It does take effort.

So, the neat thing is, like I said,
yeah, you can go to our website.

I should have mentioned too.

Can you go to our stories page, and
we have our celebrities and influences

on there along with their stories
that Of why horses are so meaningful

for them and their and mental health,
and we also have videos on there.

To to do all that, to create that kind
of infrastructure, Pretty much most of

all of our individual programs would
not have the resources to do that.


There's just I mean, the amount
of money that it takes to do what

we're doing to create this campaign.

The There's no way.

But by doing it together and by getting
the bigger sponsors that we've been able

to get because we're doing it together,
Then we can, have the money have that

money to put all this stuff together
to support all of all of the programs.

So but, yeah, it's it's a joint effort.


So if somebody

Rupert Isaacson: wants to participate
in this with their program let's

say they go and they create a
video, are there some parameters?

And then they they said they
get they send you that video.


And then, also, uh, you help them
encourage them to get it out on their

and other people's social media, do you
do you provide some guidance on how to

make a video like this because, I mean,
a lot of people just have no idea even

though we've all got cell phones now
that have very good cameras on them.

Do you is there some guidance for how
to put a short video together and how to

put things out on social media in this
way because I I think for many of us who

are dinosaurs like me I mean, obviously,
I grew up when mastodon still bellowed

to mastodon Across the Primeval Swamp
and somewhat before the invention of

the wheel so as an analog person trying
to work in a digital age, sometimes

I get a little bit oogled and oogled.

Like, the only reason I can do
this podcast is because my wife,

Eliana, used to work for IBM
and knows how to do this stuff.

Otherwise, I'd be completely lost.

So a lot of us are a bit
old school like that.

How do we old schoolers create these
things, can can is there some guidance?

Is the guidance just, well, go get some
young people that know how to do it?

Or what yeah.

How do we get help to do

Lynn Thomas: this?


We actually do trainings for the
charity partners, and, eventually,

we're gonna get that on our website
so everyone has access to them.

That's just, one of those
things on the list to do.

So we do train in social media and
and things like what you're talking

about with helping create videos.

Now I will clarify that horses from
mental health is actually producing

some videos that we're producing that
are very professionally made that That

the programs can also utilize to share.

Whether you're a charity partner or
not, anyone can share those videos.

So you could

Rupert Isaacson: they could
they could use the videos that

you've made to help themselves
fundraise, say, this is the field.

This is what we do.

Lynn Thomas: Yes.


And so we've created Some different
feature videos that are, around the

five minute range, we've created
then also, if anyone's seen them

yet or not, the animated videos.

So we are getting Case stories
from different programs, and we

turn those case stories into a
three minute animated, Story.

So that's it's always, again, very
interesting process to go and try to

take a story, a case experience, and
make it Three minutes where it has an

emotional impact where people understand
how how this can work, and we use the

animation one because of confidentiality,
and it's a great way to Tell a story.

And it's also been fun, going to other
countries now and realizing, actually,

these animated videos could fit for Any
country, any culture, we literally would

just need to do a different voice over.


And so that's exciting that we
hope to do in the future as well.

So, Yeah.

So we're telling these stories
of transformation in a way that

hopefully highlights that is our
goal is to highlight the unique

impact that horses bring to
people's journey of transformation.

When you're

Rupert Isaacson: doing these sorry.

I I just I got a question there.

When you're doing these these videos of
these stories, transformative stories

are you also saying this happened at this
program with some sort of link at the

end that say, if you want to support the
work of this program follow this link,

or will will will potential funders or
viewers know which program that came

from and then have a way of supporting

Lynn Thomas: them?


The the very end of the video, we
have Credits that acknowledge our

sponsor, acknowledge the premier
partners, acknowledge all the charity

partners, and then thank the story,
the program of which the story came

Rupert Isaacson: fantastic.


So people would know, okay.

This story came from this program.

I love this.

I'd like to support that program.

Lynn Thomas: And our goal with these
short animated videos that that

share case stories is to have a
diversity of different populations,

ages, And needs, therapeutic goals.

So we hopefully as the library
grows, there'll be something that

fits for maybe your population
focus And your objectives and focus

Rupert Isaacson: areas.



I I have never heard of anything
so unselfishly helpful, um,

it's rather astonishing.

And and fair fair full
disclosure listeners.

So, at our horse boy tribe day, we have
a a gathering of of all our as many of

our members who want to show up as show
up and we had that this year in Colorado

at place called Horsebuds in Greeley,
Colorado run by the amazing, Deb, uh,

there who Deb Michael, who hosting this
was they're basically mini conferences.

And Lynn was kind enough to show up
and kind enough to talk us through

arenas for change and, sorry.

I meant what was this for mental health?

And the next thing, arenas for change,
which we're gonna get to in a minute.

And I was just blown away because,
I hadn't seen anybody in this field

come forward with something that said,
let's just Uplift, everybody, every

organization, altogether from the small
you showed us that video of of what

was the place in Oakland again that
that is running such a great program?

We Ride two.

We write to, yeah, we write to a really,
really good video short video of of a

program there of, people of color, youth
of color, um, in in Oakland, obviously,

very needed place, somewhere you wouldn't
necessarily expect a program to see and

and it was really beautifully done, and
you could see how the attention that

that program would get through what
you were doing, just them as one small

little thing could be an absolute game
changer, let alone for all of us who

are running the larger organizations
who, also need to raise the profile

that to have all that done at the same
time, I'm not saying, well, I favor

path over Igala or Igala over horse
boy or horse boy over, lifemanship.






We're all the same.

We're all doing the same job.

We're all in this together, and you
were the first person, I think, to

that I've seen coming along with a
with a with a program that really

right across that board without any
any factionalism, uplifts us all.

And so, what you viewers can't see is
I've I've I've got an imaginary hat on

here, and I'm taking this hat off to Lynn.

I'm taking my hat off.

In fact, I'm gonna do it several
times because it's it's an it's

it's it's a work of great vision.

And and when you you explain what
you're doing, you think, yeah.

Well, of course.

Yeah, that's obvious.

We should all do that, but but nobody has.

It's always like when you listen to
a a reading of pop song on the radio.

Well, I could write that,
but, yeah, but you didn't.

It's like all good ideas,
it seems like a no brainer.

And yet in the, what, fifty,
sixty years of our field, it

actually hasn't been done.

So I'm immensely impressed
and immensely excited.

Lynn Thomas: Yeah.

Well well, thank you.

And really again, acknowledging my
cofounder, Jackie and Tyler, Uh, who had

the experience with doing these campaigns
that brought the knowledge and the idea.

I mean, we knew we wanted to do something,
but it's Like, how to go about doing

Rupert Isaacson: it?

Tell us about the amazing Jackie Tyler
because they're not here right now.

Let's let's think That's

Lynn Thomas: two different people.



Rupert Isaacson: Jackie and Tyler.



So let let's let's hear about

Lynn Thomas: them.


They've done campaigns in other
sectors, um, ending polio.

They did in Australia that ended up
raising I've millions, it might have

been in the billions, actually, raising
that amount of money by getting by

the same concept of convening all
the Organizations in the end polio

sector, and then, hey, everybody.

Let's work together because and we
can reach out to these celebrities,

and we can put on this event.

You And then they get all
the government leaders.

Well, hey.

The government leaders now, wow.

This is a big audience.

We might wanna, pump
pump ourselves up a bit.

And then they would then say, yes.

We're gonna dedicate government funds.

Businesses say, oh, I
wanna get in front of this.

We're gonna ded dedicate business
funds and sponsorships To end polio.

So they've done that with
that and some other kind of

Big, huge projects like that.

And so Jackie has a background with
Horses and with mental health, and this

has been a vision and a passion for her.

And so she wanted to bring this
to our sector and connected with

me, and then I was like, Yeah.

I was this is what we wanna do.

So that's that's where it comes from.

So she's better at talking
about it than I am.

I'm just here as the yes.

Let's do it because I
believe in collaboration.

I believe in when we work
together, we're all better off.

The And and just to share, I mean, some
of just from our last two campaigns,

so we're talking about five, six
weeks of time, we had a reach of Over

thirty five million on social media.

I believe.

Our videos have been watched
over a million times.


And This kind of stuff is only happening
because we're doing it together.


And it can keep growing.

Rupert Isaacson: What what Jackie
clearly has has identified is that

what we're dealing with here is a
public health issue in a public health

campaign the the fact that it's you
you bring up, the end polio thing.

People think, well, horses and equinexes
and stuff, it's a niche, and it's, it's

people who, are looking for therapy and
just, wanna, gaze at their navels and talk

about how to press they are, and we we
all know that this is not the case at all.

We all know that people's lives are
being saved daily in these programs.

It it was interesting to me.

I was at I I've just come back from
doing a series of trainings in Ireland

last week, and one of the clear messages
you get whenever you go to any of

these programs, because they're all
offering in a slightly different way,

is there a lot there's always one or
two young people who are there who

will say to you and I don't mean young,
like, twenties or young, like, teens,

after being, like, young, like, eleven.

So if it was not for this
program, I would not be here.

Like, I I would not be here.

I would have left the
planet at this point.

And we all know this.

We the fact that we do have a crisis in
mental health, for sure, in our society

today in a way that is whether it's
more acute than it was before, whether

it's more we're because we're more aware
of it its effects on us than we were

before, nonetheless, now is its time.

And just as we need to end polio, we
need to ameliorate our mental health.

If we're going to meet the challenges
of all of the stuff that's up the

road for us as a society because we
know there's some big stuff coming.

Doesn't matter which end of the climate
thing you sit on, you know it's there.

It's a conversation.

Stuff is happening.

Doesn't matter which end of the
thing you're on, whether it's

on Ukraine and is it's there.

It's happening.

Stuff's going on.

Stuff's going down.

Life is getting more stressful.

Costs are going up.

The world is getting more
competitive, blah blah blah, and

mental health is now a crucial thing.

So the fact that Jackie identified
that in the same way as, okay, we

we've almost learned how to deal with
pandemics and epidemics, but this is a

different type of pandemic, and this is
a much more insidious type of pandemic

that claims the lives of millions of
people every day around the world.

People just feel they can't go on anymore
and that's the work we're all doing.

So it's really interesting to me that she
identified that, sir, got another hat on.

Jackie, you can't see me, but
I'm taking this hat off to you.

Thank you for deciding to make it a
public health issue in the same way

that polio will be, tell us about Tyler.

Who who's Tyler on this So Tyler is

Lynn Thomas: the executive producer
of the campaign, and, Again, he's just

the the one doing all the operational
steps behind the scenes of which there

are many, and he's absolutely wonderful
to work with, Incredibly good at

putting together really good campaigns.

So I'm really appreciative of him
and then the rest of the team.

Everybody has their different
roles doing all there's a lot of

pieces to put on these campaigns.

It's kinda like putting
on a conference Yeah.

And even and Probably
bigger in some ways too.


Because I've experienced
putting on conferences too.

So, so there's a lot of pieces
behind the scenes, and what's neat

is, yeah, we're doing the legwork.

And I think that's where yeah.

With horses for mental health, really,
I think that was the vision as I it was

time to step away from a The training,
the and the model that I was doing with

the gala and really had this vision to
look more macro, you could say Absolutely.

And do something that brings us all
together, and it's been so fun because

it has been bringing us all together,
and I can't wait to see where it keeps

Rupert Isaacson: going.

I've got one more question before we
go on to arenas the change so you're

talking about the month in May.

This is obviously a massively and mostly,
um, social media event, is there actually

also a single event event, like physical
event that people can show up to, or

is the whole thing online and virtual?

But, basically, how do people
participate even if they're not

submitting information about their
programs hoping to be involved?

Lynn Thomas: Yeah.

So right now, it's all online.

However, our vision is to do some more
event based experiences, and we encourage

the charity partners as maybe part of
their, Way of getting awareness with

their fundraising teams that are out there
saying, we believe in this program and

this amazing cause to do little events.

Do a dinner or do a Ride the horse,
or walk with the horse or anything

like that, so we provide some ideas
for the charity partners to utilize.

And, yeah, our our vision and what we're
already starting to strategize and plan

is that horses for mental health is gonna
be conducting efforts year round, Not

just the one big campaign seen throughout
this campaign in the month of May.

We wanna keep that momentum going
year round with different types

of events and And experiences.

Rupert Isaacson: Brilliant.

So the the idea for physical events is is
is in at least in conversation and Yes.

Apprised of things we can
actually physically show up at or

organize ourselves as part of it.

Lynn Thomas: Right.


I mean, you you know, like, you have the,
bike for multiple sclerosis or walk for

cancer, Big events like that, um, like as
mentioned with Jackie and her background

with, like, the end polio, or she she was
also part of starting the global citizen

project, which is to end world poverty.

tHose are big concert events.

And so people take
actions on social media.

And by taking actions on social media
spreading awareness, they get a free

ticket to go to Concert that has all
these big name, singers, and then

that's where the big companies and the
government officials get on the stage,

and it's one of those kind of events too.

So That might be in our future,
something like that too, and we'll

just see how it continues to unfold.

Rupert Isaacson: Fantastic.

I can't wait I can't wait to stay
abreast of it, and we'll do our our

best on this podcast to dig it up and
spread it out and let people know.

Lynn Thomas: Yeah.

Thank you.

Thank you for spreading the word.

You for

Rupert Isaacson: for for for
doing what none of us have done.


It's wonderful.


So horses for mental health, amazing.

So arenas for change, not content
with just doing one new thing

on a global potential scale.

You're now doing two, what is arenas
for change, and how does it differ

from horses for mental health?

Lynn Thomas: Yeah.

It's funny you say that because,
After a gala, twenty one years

building a business, and I
know you know what it takes.

I know all these programs
know what it takes to to be an

entrepreneur and build a business.

And there was a part of me I was
like, oh, I'm really, really tired.

I am so I'm just gonna go work for some
corporation and Make money for change.

Like, that's the space I was in.

And then I had this wonderful team
like, Lynn, what are we doing next?

And it's like, oh, okay.

We're doing something next.

But it's you know, arenas for change
was basically born out of, like

well, now what are we gonna do, Lynn?

And and it really came about because
there's A lot of us had just we

just love to learn, and we love
to learn in a community because

then we're pushing ourselves.

We're building on ideas, and we're
getting better when doing it together

and learning with one another.

And so are for change was born with
this, like, well, we wanna keep learning.

And what do we wanna keep learning?

Where would we wanna focus,
and how do we wanna do it?

And so we we started with First, again,
our foundation is involving horses

for mental health and any kind of
well-being education, coaching, personal

development, organizational development.

However, there's a lot of
people that were like, well,

we also like other animals too.


We like we like to do dogs.

We work with chickens, goats, llamas.

We like nature.

And a lot of us, thanks to the
pandemic too, did really get into doing

more telehealth online Experiences.

And so we created the word arenas,
and it's plural, to acknowledge that

while we're still very much Engage with
the horses because that's our base.

wE work in a lot of different arenas, and
we still wanna learn with one another.

So and then for change,
because we're about change.

Well, then one of our team members
said, well, arenas for change, a r

Farina, c h for change is Arch, and so
that could be our our simplified name.

So Arch came about because
arches are symbolic.

They're symbolic of new beginnings,
new perspectives, and transformation,

which, of course, fit very well
with the place In our journey that

we were at, and it fits very well
with the clients that we work with.

So, we started there, and the
next thing we went with was,

well, Where do we wanna focus?

And and we kinda talked about we're
doing good work, and so many great

organizations Training, so many
wonderful programs, doing amazing things.

We're all doing really
good work out there.

And what can we do to keep improving?

What can we do to keep building
on the great work that's

already being done out there?

So that was the first thing.

And the second thing was we really Wanted
to focus on our facilitation skills

and how we can continue to increase
creating an emotionally safe environment.

Because when clients feel safe, When
horses feel safe, when everybody feels

when when our team members feel safe,
when everybody feels safe, learning can

increase, And our process can go deeper.

So and we, really wanted to look at
what can we do as facilitators Where

clients really feel seen and heard.

I mean, horses do that so well.

And I think sometimes as
facilitators, we're the ones that

are getting in the way of that.

So That was another thing
we wanted to focus at.

And then the other thing we wanted to do
was well, I didn't wanna do a model again.

I I I believe models have a place,
so you needed very Structured more

structured programs that can be
replicated, um, we just kinda wanted

to do like well, we like to embrace all
the different Interventions and ideas,

and yet we still need a foundation.

And so we created what we call the scene
keystones, Um, which, of course, goes

with clients feeling seen and heard.

But the seeing keystones are just a
framework for us as facilitators to

hold In our minds, ask ourselves these
questions which are around sense of self.

What am I, Yeah.

Am I knowing myself?

Am I understanding myself?

How can I better understand myself?

What is my sense of self In this moment.

What is my opposite in this moment?

Because when we look at our opposites,
then we learn so much about ourselves.

So, I'll go through the
questions in a minute.

But, basically, it's a set of questions
we ask ourselves under each of these

acronym of scenes, sense of self,
Empowering mindset, externalizing story,

and natural flow is what that stands for.

And so when it's just a set of questions
that we ask ourselves, Then it can

be applied in a lot of different
ways in a lot of different settings.

And I think for those of us who've been
doing this work for a while, I think

it helps us look at the nuances of
what we're doing and how we're doing

it and how we're facilitating and
engaging with the client and with the

experience and with the environment.

And for new people, what we're finding I
I I first wondered if this was gonna be

for maybe more experienced people, but,
actually, we've had a lot of new people

come through our trainings just Looking
at this framework and asking ourselves

these questions around sense of self
and power mindset, externalizing story,

natural flow, And really setting a great
foundation for their learning as well.

So Okay.


That's what we're doing.

And I'll I'll mention externalizing story,
of course, really got us down the path of

story and store the story framework and
mindset and how that applies in our work.

So I'll stop there because that was a
mouthful, but that's what we started.




I know.

And I just realized
there was more I missed.

But, anyway, I'm gonna pause
because I know that was a mouthful.

Rupert Isaacson: Maybe maybe we we'll
get to those things that you missed.

So so so arenas for change is a training
program that say I could do where I could

learn to emphasize making my learning
slash professional environment slash

service provision environment safer, um,
by allowing the service users, let's say,

to be more seen and heard by training me
through certain questions, um, to keep

that ethic front and center in my work and
the environment that I provide and whether

it's for me, whether it's for the client,
whether it's for the horses, what it's

all of us, is that have I got it right?


Lynn Thomas: that what You do.

That's Thank you for helping concise it.

You're right.

It's a learning environment,
so we we provide training.

And mainly, like I said, it started
because we just all A group of

us all wanted to keep learning,
and they were like, well, anybody

else can join us who wants to.

And then it's turned into
it keeps growing as well.

Oh, so, and then and then we added
certification be due to popular

requests or or, requests for that.

And even how we're doing that
is a little bit different.

But, ultimately, yes, you
can come and learn this.

And and let me just kinda share too
what I mentioned about what we started.

We actually what then when
we first were starting, we're

like, well, what's our mission?

What's our vision?

And we actually were
going around in circles.

We were, like, debating what's a
mission and what's a vision, and we

had different opinions and Mission.

That whole thing.

A mission.

I know.

So our but then we started
talking about our values.

And it was when we started talking
about our values that we really lit up.

And so we have a set of values.

They're actually long paragraphs because
at first, we're, like, Coming up with

the one word things, and then we're like,
well, it doesn't have to be one word.

So, so we came up with value.

So that's our foundation is we
wanna connect with others Who

wanna keep learning and growing,
improving our skills as facilitators,

and we share these values.


So that that's the the first thing.

And then the second thing is,
well, what do we wanna learn?

Because we do we can't be too broad.

We can't be all things to all people.

And so this idea of the scene
keystones, okay, here's here's where

we're gonna focus, and then that led
into a little bit more about Story.

So we talk about for people who
are interested and wanna learn more

about how to apply a story mindset,
which we can talk more about that,

In environments with animals, horses,
nature, or even online or in your office,

that's really what a lot of our focus

Rupert Isaacson: is.


Talk to me about these stories, how we how
we involving story, how we're using story.


Lynn Thomas: There's a couple ways.

Because I think the first thing
people out with with, like, narrative

therapy and stuff you think about,
well, we all are grow up, and

we Tell ourselves these stories.

We have these narratives in
our mind that influence how we

engage with our relationships
and with the world around us.

So, I'm not good enough Or nice people
with people who are manipulating me.

Rupert Isaacson: Or whatever.



Lynn Thomas: Those those
kind of narratives.

So there's that aspect of the stories
that we tell ourselves and really

investigating, exploring those.

What we're really looking at this,
though, is looking at life As a story.

And you probably have a lot
to have input on this because

you're a storyteller, Rupert.

So When we look at life as a
story, we get new perspectives.

So we look at one, I'm the main
character of my life right now.

I'm I'm in the story of this
podcast with Rupert, and, we're

having an experience right now.

We're feeling things.

We're experiencing things.

I'm in it.

I'm a character In this story right now.


And as are you.

We're characters in the story,
and I'm feeling experience in it.

However, if in my mind or or even
physically, if I were to Take a

step back and say, I'm gonna look at
this podcast with Rupert as a story.

Now I'm gonna kinda watch.

I'm gonna take and look as if
I'm a viewer watching a movie

or a reader reading a book.

Now I'm still going to be Feeling and
experiencing things because we do.

When we're watching a movie, we
still have some emotional connection.

We're putting ourselves in the shoes
of the characters a lot of times,

But we are getting a little different
perspective when we step back.


We can see new things.

Do not walk into that scary room.

But when we're a character,
we don't see that.


So as a viewer, we're seeing new
perspectives, but then we also

have another perspective stepping
further back as an author.

And when you're looking at your life as
a story from an author's perspective,

that's another whole different
type of perspective that you get.

And so as facilitators, we can engage
with our clients and invite or flow

through these different perspectives as a
character, as a viewer, and as an author.

Eric took you

Rupert Isaacson: out of that okay.

That's interesting.


I just wanted to clarify that.


So go on.

Lynn Thomas: Yeah.

So, and so when we're working with
our clients as a character, say

they're they're in the space with the
horses, They're having an experience.

Our role as a facilitator
then is to hold that space for

them to have that experience.

We might become fellow
characters in their story.

That's possible too.

And so I'm gonna engage with them
a way that might be more like I'm

a character in their story, and
how would I be as that character?

Meaning, like, maybe
I'm the listening ears.

They just need someone to listen.

I've you know, maybe I I remember
so a client one time saying, Wow.

I was afraid to say this.

I didn't wanna say this because I'm having
grief, but I know that you have a loss

too, and I was, worried about saying
too much because you have this loss.


I did have a loss.


And I was having feelings
genuinely hearing her loss story.

And now I can step back a little bit
in my own mind as a facilitator and

say, I'm the I'm the character in her
story that she's worried about hurting,

and, therefore, she's not taking care
of herself because she's worried or

she's not sharing or whatever because
she's worried about the other person.

I'm that character in this story,
so I'm gonna be that character.

So that's how we're gonna engage.

A lot of it's more holding
space, allowing that process

for them to feel and experience.

As a viewer, if the client's in
viewer role, we're stepping back.

Maybe we're watching the space
with the horses, and maybe

they're narrating some things.

And I'm gonna be more like, wow.

I'm gonna join in them with the curiosity.

Like, I'm sitting next to
someone watching a movie.

Like, wow.

That was interesting, or I
wonder what that's about, or

wonder what's gonna happen next.

Now we don't wanna overdo it
because then it becomes annoying.

So as a facilitator, again,
I'm doing a lot of holding

space, Lot of being present.

A lot of joining with our clients.



Rupert Isaacson: don't want the DJ
to interrupt the song too often.




Lynn Thomas: Exactly.


So and then when they're in
the author role, when we invite

that, we'll we'll step out.

We'll literally change
our physical location.


And it's almost like you're
sitting a bunch like, we're

the editor is a facilitator.

They're the author, so we're
really paying attention that we're

supporting them as the author,
that we don't become the author.

But as a story editor, I'm gonna educate
about so I'm gonna look at, well, what

are the main characters of this story?

What are some of the
characteristics of those characters?

We're gonna deepen and develop the story.

We'll look at locations.

Settings matter.

The scenes matter.

Look at the locations, characteristics.

We'll look at what is
this really a story about?

What's looking to transform?

So we have a whole process that we've
learned and we started exploring

and experimenting with, and we
teach that because we've actually

found it to be really powerful.

And it helps clients get these
new perspectives, but also it

helps organize the experience in
a way that's really meaningful.

Even Something simple like if you were
to put a title to the experience, if

you were to look at this experience with
the horse as a story, and you were to

put a title at what might you title it?


And that actually can be really
meaningful, and it anchors the

experience in a concise way.

So, Again, there's so much
about it because I get really

excited about this story.

There's a lot of depth to how story
and a story mindset can be utilized.

But the biggest thing in what we say
is when our stories change, we change.

And it's not just about
changing the narratives.

The experience we're having
with the horses is a story.

And the stories, we like to say,
are some of the most amazing

story editors we have seen because
they shift and they do things.

And next thing you know,
our story changes, and

something inside of us shifts.

Rupert Isaacson: I love it.

When's the next training that I can join?

Lynn Thomas: Well, that was the other
thing we wanted to do with Arch is I I

really wanted it to be accessible Because
so much that's out there, it it's, again,

wonderful trainings, and it costs a lot.

And so we really wanted
Accessibility, which we can do

nowadays with a lot of the online.

So we have some really
wonderful online courses.

People can just get monthly subscription,
stay as long as it works for you, learn

what you wanna learn, and then, of
course, we have people who stay longer

because they like to be part of the
community and the continued learning.

But, yeah, feel free to jump on arenas
for change dot com, you can get a

monthly subscription one, access the
online courses, including there's

videos of actual sessions in there that
you can watch, and then we debrief.

You can watch us debrief those
actual sessions and learn what

our thought process was and what
we learned going through it.

So there's that in there and a whole
course talking about the scene Keystone's

and also about there's whole section
about the horse horse the horse's role,

horse specialists, and their role and
things they can consider, , and think

about questions they can ask themselves.

We also have an online live interactive
workshop called seen through story.

It's two days.

It's intense.

It's immersive, and it's fun.

It's very interactive.

You're gonna create your own personal
growth story Using the tools we teach you

and as a way to learn it and apply it.

So, and you'll leave with seven very
like, Seven really good tools that

you can just add to your toolbox.

You can apply them as it fits for you,
but they are definitely tools tools

that will help when you feel stuck with
your clients, when When the process

feels a little stuck and you need a
way to expand or move, these story

tools are really effective with that.

So So we have that seen through
story workshop two days that

you can look into attending to.

And then we do have some in person
Well, I'm just sharing that right

now because that's where it makes
it more accessible that anyone can

can join in, learn Learn with us.

We learn from each other.

We talk about we're all teachers.

We're all learners.

We have a whole process in our platform
too that we all learn from each other.

And, yeah,

Rupert Isaacson: that's the If
we do wanna come and attend one

of the physical courses, I'm,
as I said, a mastodon Hunter.

So, my name, by the way, is Ugh.

And and, I come from the Ugh
tribe, Where We Speak Book, so,

I I do very well in live events.

Where where are they being held?

And, I presume I obviously, I could sign
on to them by going on to the the website.

But yeah, do you have a particular
venue, are there many venues?

How does it work if if
you wanna do it live?


Lynn Thomas: so we started
Arch in twenty twenty one.

So I'm saying that because
we shifting what we're doing.

We keep well, I always I
always shifted with the gal.

It was all over

Rupert Isaacson: the place.

Anything about that.


Lynn Thomas: Yeah.


It's always changing.

It's always evolving.

So right now, what we're doing,
one, we have what we call the

arch gatherings, which reminded
me of your tribe experience.

Very, similar, we we kinda we say in
our gatherings, it is experiential.

It's in an environment with horses
and nature and Anything else?

And it's like an experiential conference.

So we say there's no PowerPoints.


It's it's when we're together, Someone
who's gonna share their experience or

their specialization or they wanna try
something new, and they talk about but

then they create an experience that
we're gonna actually hands on practice.


And so we have a lot of different,
members and nonmembers alike attend

and and present and share, and we
We've done stuff with mounted work.

We've done stuff on the ground
with different populations.

We've done

Rupert Isaacson: I want to
come on with these courses.

Where is it?

Where where do I

Lynn Thomas: go?

Oh my gosh.


Go to our website.

We are doing them in different
regions of the world.

So we have Minnesota in June.

So once a year they're once a
year in the different regions.

Minnesota in June, we usually
have a Latin America one.

We have a Australia one In October.

And then we're gonna have a we
were in the Netherlands this year.

This twenty twenty four, we're
gonna be in Denmark In September.

It's not on the website yet.

It's got we gotta get that up there.

But so we do them in
those different regions.

So once a year, Check out our
website or get on our email list.

And this would be

Rupert Isaacson: for how long?

Is this a two day thing?

Five It's three days.


Lynn Thomas: days.

Three days.

Rupert Isaacson: Around three years.


How many people?

Lynn Thomas: They've been around,
like, in the twenty to thirties

Rupert Isaacson: Range.



So, like, a a a not too
small, but not too big.

Somewhere where it's intimate, but you
can also divide people up into smaller

groups and get back together again and

Lynn Thomas: Right.




That's exactly right.

I mean, again, we want I guess
for me and maybe I I Yeah.

Go ahead.

In person, it's a time for connection.


Because that's why I say no PowerPoints.

If we're gonna do a PowerPoint,
we can do that online.


And if if, a lot of this

Rupert Isaacson: How else
will I fall asleep, Lynn?

If if you don't put me in a a nice,
um, darkened room with a PowerPoint,

we can snooze gently in the back.


Lynn Thomas: Well, there are hammocks.

Actually, you don't even
need the PowerPoint because

we're like, you know what?

Do you?

We you know, if you need
a break, go take a break.

This is just about we're here to
learn with Each other and if you wanna

go sleep in the hammock, you don't
even need a dark end room report.

You could just go take a hammock
and say, I'm out of here.

I'm gonna go hang with the horses.

I that's what I need right now.

Rupert Isaacson: So okay.

So if I so if I was in Minnesota
in June, I could do one of these.

If I was Yeah.

The other thing in Denmark,
where when would that

Lynn Thomas: be?

It's going to be in September Next

Rupert Isaacson: year?


Any policy to do the thing?


I forgot the exact

Lynn Thomas: date.

Do you have Yeah.

And that's the second weekend
of October is Australia k?

In Queensland.

Rupert Isaacson: Okay.

And are you there yourself at this?

Lynn Thomas: I have been so far.


So if we if

Rupert Isaacson: we wish to touch the
hem of your garment and avert it Right.

From from your brilliance, that
would be the place to do it.

Lynn Thomas: Yes.


Otherwise, I'm staying hold up.

And, actually, no.

You know what's been fun is Yeah.

I've just been spending more time just
going around to other people's Yeah.

Trainings and events.

It's been so fun.

I like I said, we can
learn from everybody.

Lynn And if we have the opportunity
to do that, I say absolutely do that.

And so I've had the wonderful
chance To, come visit you you and

your tribe, which was amazing.

And natural I went to the natural
life internship conference, went

to the herd institute conference.

Gonna go to the Polyvagal
Equine Institute training.

And I'm just really at the stage of
life where I'm excited to just flow

with what It's interesting to me.


Rupert Isaacson: And Yeah.

Well, I I guess what what we've all
found those of us who've been doing this

for a while, is that as the field has
expanded, it just gets more interesting.

And as as more people bring more
to it what you're doing here,

as you say, I'm a storyteller.

And one of the thing one of the reasons
I find that so attractive is I know

the healing power of Dory I mean,
everybody does because people talk

about our species, or we are called
Homo sapiens sapiens, which means

the thinking ape, but there's nothing
special to our species about thinking.


Anything where the brain thinks, and
many, many things on the planet have

a brain in fact, you could even say
that many people, if you look at Rupert

Sheldrake's work or that sort of thing
with the conscious universe and, the

mycelium network, maybe the entire
everything is conscious and thinking, so

there's nothing special to us about that.

But it seems that what we have, which
other let's say, animals don't at

least, is the the larynx, the voice box,
which is the ability to tell stories.

So other animals vocalize.


But and they can do it in a in a
very, very, very complex way, but

we're the ones who write Shakespeare,
rap, epic poetry, whatever.

That's us.

That's the humor.

So, really, we're the
storytelling in it, aren't we?

And I I find that with with autism,
that's one of the big challenges is is

when one encounters someone with auto,
a u t o ism, selfism, auto is the Greek

word for the south, locked in the south.

The the relationship with the exterior
world is the problem, then it can be

very difficult for for one not to other
these these people because they're not

storytelling, at least in a way that
we can immediately understand because

they're not doing it with the larynx.

So it's fascinating to me.

And having lived with hunting
and gathering tribes, what I know

is that all healing is story.

So for example, if you go to the the
healer or the shaman, if you're in

the Kalahari, you go with a story.

But it you also do that, of course, when
you go to a doctor, you go over the story.

Oh, oh, it's my leg.

Oh, it's my this.

It's my that.

And then the doctor goes into their
research or into their computer or into

their knowledge bank or the shaman goes
into the spirit world through an altered

state of consciousness, then they come
out with a series of instructions because

they've been told a story in there.

And then they give you another
story, you then leave, of

course, and create a new story.

And so we know that storytelling is
at the absolute center of the healing

experience for humans, really at the
center of the life experience, and one

of the things which I've I've found and,
of course, many people who've everyone,

basically, who's who's ever lived with
a hunting and gathering group has found

us that the original human cultures
are all cultures of conflict resolution

because they're all cultures of strategy.

They're not they're not cultures
of competition because we're

weak mid level predators.


There's everything out
that's gonna eat us.

We don't have claws, big
teeth, we're not fast.

We're not like the other great apes
which can rip a leopard in half.





The only way we stand a
chance is if we cooperate.

And, um, now we are cannibalizing
ourselves a little bit, but it's really

only the last ten thousand years.

So I love basically, this is
me just getting excited and

go blah blah blah blah blah.

Because what I see you're doing is that
you're really bringing that healing Power

of Story into the work that we're all
doing and by putting it into it sorry.

It's character, author and editor.

Is that right?

Lynn Thomas: Viewer.

Character, viewer, author.

Now the client is the author.

We look at ourselves as facilitators, as
story editors, meaning not the kind that

corrects or not the proofreading kind,
the kind of story editors that support

authors in deepening their stories.

But what you've

Rupert Isaacson: basically got
that is is the is the classic

structure of good storytelling.


Because you've got always a prologue.


So it starts at the height of the
action, either there's a crisis, you

you say I've got a problem or something.

Then there's act one, the call for
adventure, the adventure is always

reluctantly pulled in, doesn't
want to because it's a schlep.

Then there's act two, it all goes wrong.

And at the end of act two, the their
protagonist, has to go and learn something

and change something about themselves.

Go find Yoda and learn how
to use the force or whatever.

Act three, they reencounter Darth Vader,
and it all goes wrong again just as the

lightsabers at their throat, they remember
what Yoda showed them and call upon it

an effective change and then epilogue,
you see them leave into a changed world.

I mean, that's every story.


That's the power and that's basically
everyone's life story, more or less, and

everyone's seasons of life story, you've
absolutely broken down this work into that

hero's journey which I think is is the
universal human experience, and whether

you did that consciously, I don't know.

Did you do that consciously, or or did
that just come from the the Akashic record

from from the from the from the greater
conscious universe into you, because it's

it's really inspired what you've done.

Lynn Thomas: Well, I mean, absolutely,
I think we can learn so much from

story and storytelling, exactly what
you're saying, the hero's journey.

And When we look at our life that
way, we get those new perspectives.

And so as to what you're saying.

And then I I was curious for you.

I mean So when you had the experience
you had with Rowan going to Mongolia,

um, and you had that experience, And
then you chose to put it on paper.

And I'm curious for you, like, what
was your experience like Of integrating

that experience by going from actually
being in it to then putting it on paper.

Because you were a character in it,
and then you became an author of it.

Rupert Isaacson: Okay.

That's a very good question.

I was asked me that before.

aS it was happening, I was writing it
down so I was writing down every moment,

um, and I knew I couldn't make anything
up because there were cameras on.

And the people behind
the cameras were not me.

So it was the best will in the world.

They were gonna show what
they were gonna show.

So it kept things authentic, but
I also knew that I would be able

to see things the camera couldn't
see because, obviously, there's my

internal experience and then there's
the camera can only point one way.

There might be, a bird flying over
the hill or a particular light

falling on a mountainside that that
that camera can't get because it's

pointed at me or it's pointed at a
horse or it's pointed at a round.

So I realized that there were
these multiple perspectives.

And so it became important to do more
than journal, but to really try to

chronicle, I think is would be the word,
the experience as we went so I filled up

notebooks as I went, and it became you
know, I would be leaping off the horse

to to scribble things because I would
have Rowan in front of me, and I couldn't

actually write, while that was going on.

So, and then later when the time
came to to write the book, I

had that record to draw upon.

And, um, the the the the the the detached
observer who's always there in all of us,

right, whenever any of us is going through
something, no matter what it is, I mean,

something banal, you're driving your car.

There's always a part of you observing
yourself driving the car, and there's

a part of you driving the car.

And consciousness is a really
interesting thing because there's

that part of us that is us, I.


Rupert going downstairs now to have a
glass of wine or something, and there's

that other part of me observing Rupert
going down, have a glass of wine.

I say, Rupert, do you really
need that glass of wine?

To which the answer is clearly yes.

So that then became clearer, obviously
as I was then able to review what had

been written because you don't remember.

That's the thing.

You remember certain things, but you
don't remember at and then you you

can look at it and go, oh oh, yes.


That happened.

And then, of course, then we're
at the same time, we're editing

the film, and we're editing two
hundred and fifty hours footage.

So we were looking at a lot of stuff
and remembering and being reminded of

and then wondering how to condense it
down so it was a coherent narrative that

wouldn't just send everybody to sleep,
so we know we really went through that.

And then and then what happens is you go
through other people's reactions to your

story, and then your own reactions to
other people's reactions to your story and

then the story taking on a greater energy
and going on and doing its own thing so so

what happened with Horse Boy with, Horse
Boy now I feel I'm being interviewed here.

But, uh, second, I'm flipping
into interviewee mode.

But what was interesting was that I could
feel from the get go on an intuitive

level in my solar plexus, in my gut, in
my gut villi inside my gut, I could feel

that there was some ancestral process
at work where there was a job to do

with this story and that I had stumbled
into by to know a talent or intelligence

of my own a series of being mentored.

I was mentored by Temple Grandin,
then I was mentored by Rowan, then

I was mentored by Betsy, then I was
mentored by the Schrammster, then I

was mentored by the neuroscientists.

And that all resulted in something
replicable that today we would call

horse boy method or movement method.

But, um, I could feel even before
any of that happened that there was

something at work, a a shift, a a
pull, that I must just keep putting one

foot in front of the other, and that
is the power of story, I think, that

you can sense story as it's evolving.

You can sense story when it's still
unformed, but calling, and this is why

people go and do things in the world.

So I I think that what you're doing,
just to bring it back to you with Arch,

is if you can help people to facilitate
that process I just described, because

everybody has a story like that in them
in their life, which is of great benefit

to everybody else because, I went through
this thing of, well, then why make why

go public with it, why why not just say
I fell into this thing with this horse,

Betsy, that it's great for my son.

He started speaking, and then he got
literate, and then he got numerate.

And, yeah, I observed it working for
other kids, but I just keep this one

to myself honestly, that's easier.

But as a as a father who was in crisis
surrounded by other parents who were in

the same crisis, having stumbled into
something that worked, I I realized

that I had a bit of an obligation to
make it available if I possibly could, I

think that what you're doing here we'll
allow an awful lot of people to do that

because if we, the human species, are
effectively a storytelling species and a

conflict resolution species, and you are
doing something with arenas for change

where that can be magnified, perhaps
for people who for whom story is is

something of a new concept even though
they've been unconsciously living it,

then the net effect must be more healing.

Right, it can only be more healing
because that is what story does.

So that's just amazing
to me what you're doing.

Lynn Thomas: Oh, and thank yeah.

Thank you for sharing.

That was so beautifully summarized too.

And and I think, again, that was such a
neat example of you had an experience.

You were in this experience with
your son, and you were feeling it.

And then you had the experience of
writing it down while you were there.

And that Learning that you got from
that, then you had the experience

of putting it on paper and then also
watching footage video footage and

then Responding to the stories of other
viewers, like, you relived and looked

and experienced that same experience In
multiple ways with multiple perspectives.

I mean, each one of those and I
think you're absolutely right.

I mean, How that expanded your story?

What insights they that gave you to
watch yourself on video, to write it in

a book, To see how other people respond,
um, how that expanded your story, how

that deepened that same story, Um,
and where it took you by doing that.

So you're absolutely right.

That is our hope that as facilitators,
we can create similar experiences like

that with our clients where they can
experiencing things from all those

multiple storytelling perspectives Of
different distances like that from their

experience that and with their experience.

So I think it does deepen.

It deepens the experience.

It helps us see new perspectives
we may not have seen.

It helps takes us in new directions.

Our stories are impacted in ways
they wouldn't have been had we

not gone through that journey.


Rupert Isaacson: No.

I I I agree.

It's and I think I think we're not
allowed or in our current society a

little bit to look at our lives that way.

We'll we we or or to look we we can
look at them linearly as stories.

I was here.

That's the past, now
I've got this present.

I'm supposed to always be in the
present moment, and then there's this

future that hasn't yet happened here
but what if it's all simultaneous?

Like, that say that's very much, say,
the the sun bushman or the Aboriginal

Australian perspective, is that actually
they call the dream time or whatever.

That's past, present, and future are
really the same thing and and this linear

line that we're following is a sort
of stubborn illusion created perhaps

by gravity, the time could even be a
construct of gravity, that's that's

what Einstein was hinting at, and the
multiple perspectives, whether or not

you believe in a multiverse or whether
you believe in past, present, future

all the same time or whether you think
it's all in it, doesn't much matter.

Because what we do know is
that we experience things

from multiple perspectives.

And I think that if you, through
Arch, are drawing people's attention

to that, the healing potential
of that, I think, is that, as you

say, when someone has perspective
on a problem, that is soothing.

It's automatically soothing to
look at a problem from the outside.

People talk about taking the macro
perspective or imagining that you

were looking down from space at
your problem, but I and all of

these things are useful tools.

However they can be a little hard to
achieve or to to suddenly jump to.

Oh, suddenly, I'm just gonna look
at my thing from the outside.

I think what you're talking about
here is guiding people through a step

by step process where each of these
small steps from, uh, character to

viewer to author, and then you've
also got you guys as editors, but

perhaps they could also become learn
to become their own editors, etcetera.

Editor's lovely because
you can rewrite a story.

You can go back and make amends
if you feel you've done something

wrong, even in your mind, in your
heart, that's actually still putting

it out there into the universe.

You can forgive somebody even if you
have not see you can't see them anymore.

Maybe they're even dead.

But you you can do that, and that affects
the story, yours and the greater one and

theirs and so on and so on, I love this.

So by by taking it down into these
small step by step processes as you as

you describe, each of which is in its
individual form, you can help someone

do something that's actually quite
complex by by putting them all together.

Whereas if you said, be in the present
moment or, look at it from the outside

and have perspective on it or that would
be a tall order because it's too big

of a jump from where one is now to that
thing, but these stages that you've

outlined, I think, make it possible.

Lynn Thomas: Yeah.

And and it's fun, and it's engaging.

Stories are fun and easy.


Where there it can be fun.

I It's a lot of fun.


I mean, horse is already engaged,
help people feel more engaged.

And then when you add into when
the clients start, having that

it's a timing thing when they are
able to step back and look at it

from those different perspectives.

But when they do it, the
next thing, it's like, yeah.

What I wonder what is gonna happen
next in this unfolding Story that we

don't know where it's actually going
and the horses just keep changing

things unpredictably, and then the
story changes, and it's like, woah.

What's happening?

But we have found that with the
clients, it's been really effective

and impactful in in sparking
that curiosity and, like, Yeah.

This is this is a story, and I'm I'm
in the story, but I'm writing the

story, Or I'm authoring the story.

It doesn't mean we control everything
in our life because characters

have to go into the unknown.

Rupert Isaacson: But Right.

And any anyone who's ever written a
story knows characters have a funny habit

of doing whatever they wanna do Yeah.

Right now.

I'm saying, my characters do not behave.

I structure out what they're gonna do,
and they just rebel all the time and

breaking on characters, and it's just

Lynn Thomas: like So yeah.


I mean, we get new insights,
and it and it can be intriguing

and interesting just like it is.

In fact we were just sharing, like,
with this veterans group, one of our

programs member programs was sharing
about they call it each each week is

called an episode, and they title the
episode, and they get really excited

about coming coming back and, Okay.

What's gonna be the next part?

What's gonna be in the next episode?

And they do a little trailer to talk about
the last episode, the last week's session.

Well, okay.

Here's a little trailer,
previously on, and then you know?


And then they get to
experience the next one.

So, it it's again, It doesn't
have to always look like that.

It's more we're just we're
adding tools in our toolbox.

And as facilitators, I
know it's helped me yeah.

Watching the sessions as a story,
because then I start looking at

things as characters, and I wonder
what the main character, who the

impact characters are and and some of
their characteristics, and it and it

brings out my own curiosity as well.


And what's important about the
Space itself and the learning itself

Rupert Isaacson: is very healing.


The learning brain is the happy brain.


As you said earlier, under
stress, one cannot learn.

But we are curious, curious monkeys.


And I could see how doing what
you're doing also allows people

through that perspective to take
things less personally, including

you as the facilitator, right, and
when Susan stops taking something

personally, you're healed.


Or at least you're along
the path to healing.

Lynn Thomas: Well, I will say if
people are interested to learn more

on our website arenas for change dot
com, On some of the pages, I know

the story page, the newsletter page.

There's there's a
freebie you can download.

It's a little ebook about Story and it
takes you part of that little ebook,

it takes you through an experience
that you get to do on yourself.

And so if people wanna kinda get in more
of a feel about it, You can go there.

Sign up for our email list
as part of that, and you get

our ebook, but it's it's fun.

Might get a a feel for what it can
look like and what you can learn too.

Rupert Isaacson: This is amazing.


So we're gonna have to we we've gone for a
long time, and there's more I want to ask.

So here's what I'd like
to do if you're amenable.

You talked about what's the next episode.

Well, for me, what I'd like to do is
I would like to come back actually

on this podcast with you and do a
separate one on arenas for change.

I think that I think that we've,
introduced this concept, but it's

a it there's a lot more here that
I'd like to delve into, and I'm

sure view listeners would do.

The same, of course with
horses for mental health.

And so if it would be okay with you,
because we covered about since nineteen

ninety nine to here in this podcast,
it's a fair bit of ground, and I'm so

grateful and you've massively informed me.

So what I would like to do, if
possible, is could we come back?

It's now we're having this
conversation December sixth.

May is going to be the month four
horses for mental health and and getting

all that stuff together, perhaps do
you think it might be a good idea if

we come back and we look at that in
more depth during that month, if you

have the time, you might be very busy
or perhaps leading up to that month.

You tell me.

And then I would like to do something
in more detail on this healing

power of story, please with arenas
for change so that we can give it

its due, would that be amenable?

Lynn Thomas: Well, that's amazing.


We'd absolutely love to.

And, yeah, we can
definitely talk and talk.

I don't know how long this has actually
been, but, Tom Oh, I need five days.

So It's been so engaging.

It's been so engaging for me.

I appreciate your questions
and your curiosity.

And, um, so, yes, I would be
honored to come back and and

continue having conversations.

Rupert Isaacson: Thank you.

Well, let's do it because, there's
there's just so much to cover.

Once again, before we sign off on
this one, please the websites where

people can go for information.

Lynn Thomas: So first is horses
for mental health dot org.

And, again, definitely sign up
on our email list there and check

out our different Resources.

In fact, we have a a research summary
resource peep programs can use to download

to give the evidence base, Along with
a lot of other information and the

videos and about the campaign there.

And then the other website
is arenas for change dot com.

aNd would love for you to come
check us out and and even join

us for a month if you want and
learn everything you can learn.

And We just love learning with
whoever wants to come and join in with

Rupert Isaacson: us.

So horses for mental health dot org?

Lynn Thomas: Dot org.

Arenas arenas for change dot com.

Rupert Isaacson: Arenas
for change dot com.

Very good.

You have

Lynn Thomas: it.



You're right.

I I wasn't satisfied with
starting another one new business.

We start two new businesses.

Rupert Isaacson: One one dot org
and one dot com, which is its

Lynn Thomas: own panel.

I question that quite a bit sometimes
too, but they are very different purposes.

So Welcome to your

Rupert Isaacson: story Lynn Thomas.


Well, listen.

Thank you.

We will reconvene.

Lynn Thomas: Well, thank you.

Thanks for all you do to spread the
word and transform lives, and, also,

thanks for everybody for listening.


Rupert Isaacson: it.

It's been amazing.


So until the next time, I guess we
will do that difficult thing where we

press that red button because I don't
wanna press that red button because

Lynn Thomas: it's been so amazing.

Well, actually, that's one of the
things we do with our clients is invite

them how they would wanna close the
episode or close closed the scene.

You have to close it.


Sometimes they say they
wanna push the pause button.

Sometimes they put a bookmark in it.

We had a client that actually
literally Said he wanted to do

a fade out, and we all literally
walked backwards to do a fade out.

So we had fun with that too.

But yeah.


Rupert Isaacson: Okay, then in that case

Lynn Thomas: To be continued.

Dot dot dot.

How about that?

Rupert Isaacson: Okay.

We have some music.


Till the next time.

Can't wait.

Lynn, thank you so much.

Thank you for yeah.

Thank you.


Thank you.

thank you for joining us.

We hope you enjoyed today's podcast.

Join our website, new trails
learning.com, to check out our online

courses and live workshops in Horse Boy
Method, movement Method, and Athena.

These evidence-based programs have
helped children, veterans, and people

dealing with trauma around the world.

We also offer a horse training
program and self-care program

for riders on long ride home.com.

These include easy to do online
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See you on the next show.

Ep 8: Lynn Thomas - Arenas of Change & Horses for Mental Health
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