Running late as usual I headed up the hill to the west corral at the Salamander Resort and Spa, where in the waning sunlight a group of people sat outside the fence watching a small girl, tiny by comparison, walking quietly and peacefully in front of a large brown gelding. The horse followed her without question, stopping where she stopped, walking where she walked, and never once appeared to be out of her direct control.

Marion Chungo had invited me to attend one of Cheryl Jordan’s EquiSpective sessions at Salamander Resort & Spa to see and photograph the unique experience. Cheryl welcomed me immediately while keeping a watchful eye on the small girl inside the corral.

The quiet spectacle was mesmerizing.

One-by-one both children and adults “took their turn” with the horse, named Patrick, a 16-year-old quarter horse who seemed as gentle as a lamb, first “bonding” with him, then beginning their special silent walk. 

Cheryl generously invited me to step into the corral to take a turn. I felt in total communication with the mighty noble animal while never once speaking a word. Patrick stopped when I stopped, walked when and where I walked. A quick thought, a flick of my wrist, a nod, a look; and he changed direction without a word being uttered.

Later, I had a chance to catch up with Cheryl to discuss this amazing program with her.

When did you create the program?

 I have been involved with horses for over 45 years and created EquiSpective approximately 20 years ago.  I grew up in Northern Virginia riding my horse all over the countryside of Vienna, Great Falls, Tysons and Reston before it was developed.  Life has brought me back full circle to my roots.  EquiSpective is a way to enjoy the amazing journey of self-discovery with a horse as your partner.

Why did you decide to begin a children’s program?

When children connect with horses and learn to respect them as sentient beings, they will stay more closely connected with nature and be more likely to protect our natural environment.  The program is designed to be suitable for all ages and skill levels and can be customized to every demographic.

The program is designed to be suitable for all ages and skill levels and can be customized to every demographic. EquiSpective is open to all ages and it has become a very popular program. 

 It is a great opportunity for kids and adults to reconnect with nature, discover the wisdom of horses and learn great life lessons while having fun.  I find that many adults tend to reconnect with their inner child as they play with the horse in the round-pen.  

Has Salamander been supportive of the program?

 Ms. Sheila Johnson and the resort have been extremely supportive of EquiSpective.  Because the resort focuses on health and wellness, EquiSpective has been a wonderful complement to her philosophy of renewing and reconnecting with one’s self. 

What is Patrick’s background?

Patrick is a 16-year-old Quarter Horse Gelding.  We purchased him from another trail ride stable and discovered that once he found he could trust people, he thoroughly enjoyed connecting with them. He is a sensitive soul and has helped many people tap into their own authentic self. 

We also use other horses.  Most, if not all horses, can work with individuals in EquiSpective. This program is not about using “trained” horses.  It is about learning to understand and communicate with all types of horses and personalities. 

Do you find individuals return after their first session?

Yes. Each time they discover new things about themselves and horsemanship.  People return with their partner, or parents return with their children.  Corporate groups have returned with various levels of managers and teams.  We also host local business owners. Experienced horsemen participate and have returned with their own horses to better understand their relationship, and develop a deeper level of trust. 

Will better understanding and deeper trusts translate positively to our daily lives?

 As the poet Marianne Williamson says, “we are powerful beyond measure.”  Horses teach us how to be more aware of our personal power, the strength of intention, how to manage our energy and the subtleties of body language.  Our participants leave this program with effective tools that will enhance their daily lives and human interactions.

How often do you organize these sessions?

 The sessions are booked upon request and all of our equestrian programs are open to the local community with a 25% discount. 

Finally, what would you like to say to the people of the Piedmont region about the program?

I encourage our neighbors to experience EquiSpective whether or not they are involved with horses.

Horses teach us to listen not only with our ears but with our eyes and our intuition.  I believe when we become more aware, we also become more appreciative of the natural beauty around us and the life lessons that all living beings have to teach EquiSpective is a way to enjoy the amazing journey of self-discovery with a horse as your partner.

 Cheryl Jordan’s EquiSpective experience is available to all ages and groups and has been featured in various publications including the New York Times and Fortune.

To book with EquiSpective, please contact:  540-326-4085

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I started in photography in 1977 when I bought a used "Nikkomat" from our Postman who sidelined as a wedding photographer. I went with him as his apprentice to weddings and events and helped with set up, etc and learned about shooting, perspectives, angles, even setting up my own darkroom in my bedroom and developing my own B&W 35mm Prints. But I actually started before that, back before I even had my first camera. At 16 I studied painting in Arcylics under a famous artist named James Michael Triggs, who like his father before him painted magazine covers for such famous magazines as Gun Digest, Flying, etc. Already being a skilled sketch artist I picked up painting quickly, learning about lighting, shadows, color, perspective, etc. This no doubt translated into my photography and comes out in the art I express through the lens of my camera. I began studying Korean Karate in 1977 at the Jhoon Rhee Schools of Tae Kwon Do in Hyattsville Md studying under Jeff Smith and Steve McGill. I went on to try my hand at other styles including Hung Gar Kung Fu and Aikido as well as Boxing at the YMCA. I went on to become a highly experienced Rock Climber, becoming not only a skilled technical climber but also a paid instructor and guide for "S.P.L.O.R.E". Additionally I lifted weights and did other forms of cross training. Being skilled in heights, safety, ropes, knots and rigging I can photograph were other less physically adept photographers may not be able to venture. I'm available for both private and commercial shoots and specialize in equestrian photography but am also a skilled portrait artist and crowd candids for event coverage. I can be reached at chris@chrisweberstudios.com.