Horses + Yoga + Women


Welcome back to the Cowgirl Yoga blog. Does anyone still blog?? Well, here we are with a reboot for 2024. It’s been awhile, and I’d like to share this space with women who have been an integral part of what we do, to feature what they have to say – let’s call the theme Horses, Yoga, and Women. Kicking off the reboot with Mandy, who joined our Dude Ranch Cowgirl Yoga retreat last year. Above photo of her by Larry Stanley Photography at the 9 Quarter Circle Ranch.


Birth and death are part of a natural cycle found in all living things. Along our journey to the finish line, we undergo a series of what the Shamans refer to as “little deaths”. Sometimes life hands us circumstances that challenge us to a point that we feel like we may perish. Nothing feels the same after we experience a loss of a significant loved one, end of a relationship, or a child grows up and moves away. Sometimes we choose our own demise by stepping into a profound learning experience that challenges everything we thought we knew. Or we decide to unravel our protective covering to finally heal an old wound. Feeling caught somewhere in between is when we really struggle. We may know in our heart this piece of us has fulfilled its purpose or no longer serves us. These little deaths, chosen or forced, bring up fear, discomfort, and resistance. Life literally begins at the end of our comfort zone.  

When I signed up for Cowgirl Yoga last September, a little death was on the horizon. I had been accepted into an apprenticeship with Linda Kohonov, author, and founder of Eponaquest Worldwide. Linda is one of leaders in the field of Equine Facilitated Learning, where horses help humans learn how to be more socially and emotionally skillful. The deadline to pay my tuition and formally enroll in the program fell right in the middle of the retreat. I had been dragging my feet and hoped some time away in the mountain air would help me get clear and decide. The universe delivered a serious nudge when Margaret pulled out Linda’s Way of the Horse cards at our opening circle.  

As the days of the retreat unfolded, the horses and my yoga practice offered their countless lessons of death and rebirth. Letting go of control leads to more freedom. Dropping my defenses creates safety. When I stop relying on words and tap into my inner knowing, feeling, and sensing, the answer is clear. When I am struggling, doing less and breathing more always helps. True connection is possible when I have the courage to pull back the layers, see myself honestly and let others see me too. Endings are necessary for rebirth to take place. All those decomposing endings create the fertile soil for new beginnings.  

On the morning of the deadline, I rolled out my mat and practiced next to the crackling fire. After breakfast, my steady equine partner provided comfort and support without words as his strong back carried me through the mountains. When we returned to the ranch, I went to my cozy cabin and called Linda to enroll in the apprenticeship. I graduated in March, and the experience was indeed a beautiful little death – and finding myself in the process of being born again and building a new reality. I’m grateful for the seeds of courage and clarity I found on that retreat. They are growing into something new and exciting.    

Mandy Roush is a certified yoga teacher and an Eponaquest Equine Facilitated Learning Instructor. She and her husband Nick founded Root Down Yoga Studio in 2011. The couple live on a small ranch with their 3 horses and 2 cats just outside of Bangor, Wisconsin. She is bringing her mom back to Cowgirl Yoga this fall in Montana, and heading to Cowgirl Yoga Argentina next spring!  Yeehaw & Namaste.