Horses are the best teachers.
Twenty minutes from Airdrie, off the beaten path and secluded in trees, is Silver Valley Ranch. These vast 160 acres are operated by Meagan and Kyle Saum and their three young children.
The ranch is Meagan’s haven. It is where she grew up and where her love for horses took root. With her herd, 14 in all, Meagan offers nature-based life coaching with horses as a way to find your way back and reconnect.
As soon as you drive onto the property, the healing begins. Many people experience emotion here; some tear up, others cry, but there is certainly an energy that takes place the moment you arrive.
“When given the opportunity, horses can help people of all ages in all areas of life.”
Meagan is “a horse whisperer,” someone who has adapted a natural style of horsemanship and rapport with horses. Her horses, which come complete with offices, have come to her in various ways to help her do her work, she says.
“Horses are sentient beings,” she says. “As preyed-upon animals in nature they can instantly read your emotions and intentions. They are our ‘truth detectors.’
“When given the opportunity, horses can help people of all ages in all areas of life,” she adds. “They can help connect us back to our true self, heal stress, trauma, loss and other forms of mental, emotional and physical illness.”
Meagan knows this because she has experienced it and has watched her clients experience it, too. She is not just a horse lover; she is also professionally trained in many areas. She is an equine-facilitated wellness coach, a certified personal and professional life coach, an addiction recovery coach and sits on the board of directors for the National Association for Equine Facilitated Wellness.
Regardless of everything she has learned, Meagan claims that her best teachers are the horses themselves. By learning the way they communicate, she says horses helped her understand herself and others.
At 18 months Meagan suffered from leukemia. After three years of intensive treatments, she went into remission. She has been cancer free since.
When she was nine, Meagan’s father, a firefighter, died on duty. This traumatic experience led to deep grief, despair, confusion and loneliness. She didn’t realize the depth of it, Meagan says, “because you don’t understand the emotion; you push it aside.” As she grew up, those feelings translated into insecurity and low self-esteem. Then Morgan, a 15-year-old thoroughbred, intervened.
Morgan was the first horse Meagan bought herself. After she brought him home, she heard that Morgan had hospitalized multiple people. “People said he had a mean streak,” says Meagan, “but he was just misunderstood. He never once showed himself like that to me.” Instead, Morgan became her rock, her calm and her awakening.
Often when she rode him or was around him, feelings of sadness and grief surfaced. Analyzing those feelings, she realized they were unresolved issues from her childhood. She had never learned to deal with losing her father. As she learned to move through her issues and heal, Meagan began to understand the magic of horses.
“They will mirror your emotions,” she says. “They are the ultimate observer. Horses can teach us how to be in the present moment, heightening our awareness and creating a safe environment for our inner blocks, fears and emotions to surface.
“This self-discovery helps us understand why we do what we do,” she adds.
To help me understand, Meagan brought in Roy, a handsome palomino, for me to work with. Within minutes, I experienced a block I didn’t realize existed. Meagan coaxed me through it – What does it look like? What does it feel like? It looked like a small black cloud caught in my heart. Instantly I knew what it was. Did I let it go? I’m not sure. What I do know is that I now feel calmer and lighter.
“Most people live in their head,” says Meagan. “That creates doubt. Horses help us get out of our head and into our heart so we can move forward, be more compassionate and understanding with ourselves and others. Horses can help us connect to our senses the way we used to be before the busyness, emotions and stresses of life happened that are unnatural to basic survival.”
Today Silver Valley Ranch offers a variety of coaching and healing techniques. Other professionals work at the ranch, as well. Meagan especially enjoys working with women and girls who are going through transitions, anxiety and struggles and do not know why.
Summing it all up, Meagan says: “This ranch is about the learning and healing potential humans have with horses. This is not about riding horses or even liking horses, it is what humans can benefit from learning to get back to our nature and become more like a horse!”