My eyes were closed. I was sitting crisscrossed in the sand. Joining me in the wooden, enclosed arena was Scott Strachan, Equus co-founder; two horses, including Dante, a beautiful, gray-white gelding; and a donkey named Kassie. Strachan guided me through a meditation before I interacted with Dante, the horse that I was most drawn to.
Equus, in Santa Fe, N.M., which describes itself as "a self-mastery, discovery and leadership development organization," is a one-of-a-kind experience to heal, learn and grow from facilitated interactions with the gentle beauties.
According to Equus' other co-founder, Kelly Wendorf, horses can teach us a lot about ourselves.
"Horses have highly developed mirror neurons and extremely large nervous systems that allow for precise attunement, or the ability to 'read' what is happening around them and in their human partners," Wendorf said. "This enables them to reflect back at us who we are, minus the story we tell ourselves."
Before my experience began, Strachan shared an insight about how animals deal with stressful situations. He explained that if a horse was being chased by a mountain lion, one of two things would happen: The horse would die or run away. Once safe, the horse would move on with its life. In other words, animals don't carry stress the way humans do, nor do they wallow on the past or live in fear. They live in the present.
There are two-hour sessions and half-day, full-day and two-day retreats, all custom-curated for individuals or teams that can be arranged directly with Equus or through the adjacent Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado Santa Fe, which has partnered with Equus. Each experience is customized for the individual, couple or group looking for a breakthrough, learning experience or team cohesion events.
The spa at the Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado Santa Fe in New Mexico.
The Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado Santa Fe features 65 rooms. Nightly rates start at $469 in the off-peak winter months and $779 in peak season from April through September. In addition to the resort's partnership with Equus, other noteworthy experiences include services inside the 15-room spa situated on a spiritual vortex, a powerful and transformational concentration of earth energy.
Here, treatments range from regionally inspired bodywork like the Mountain Spirit Purification (110 minutes, $300), including smudging of sage and an adobe clay body mask, to the Blue Corn and Honey Renewal (80 minutes, $245) featuring an exfoliating and hydrating body treatment.
I opted for the Spa Custom Massage (50 to 80 minutes, $165 to $245) with an added smudging ceremony ($10) that is said to clear negative energy and allow for a new intention. Other spiritual enhancements include Chakra Balancing ($10), Mindful Meditation ($10) and Energy Flow ($10) to help balance the body's energy lines.
For more wellness, there are also complimentary guided morning hikes each day, yoga inside a glass-walled pavilion, meditation sessions and a luxury teepee where yoga sessions and spa treatments can take place.