‘Horses can help women unlock leadership potential,’ says life coach

Emma Jane Clarke at Martinstown Lodge with Misty. Photo: Ciara Wilkinson

Elaine Keogh

Helping women overcome so-called ‘imposter syndrome’ is a key motivator for a woman who uses horses to help find, and refine, leadership abilities.

Emma Jane Clarke has turned 200-year-old Martinstown Lodge in Co Meath into what she hopes is a haven for change, where the horses “help bring out your authentic self”.

An accredited coach and trained in Equine Guided Leadership, she said: “Practical exercises with the horses on the ground, because there is no horse riding involved, reflect how we communicate.

“The horses act as a mirror and help people see in non-judgemental ways how they actually operate as leaders or as part of a team.”

She said to lead a horse, you need to be confident and grounded, and, “if you are not, the horse has a choice because they do not need to work with you”.

“Horses reflect how we show up in the world, and help people overcome challenges or blocks that can hold them back, like issues with confidence or setting boundaries,” she said.

“We work to identify the thoughts that hold clients back. What we think of ourselves is what we become and what we become in turn effects what we think of ourselves.”

Emma Jane was prompted to change her own life after an accident in 2017 saw her spending three months in hospital with a shattered pelvis.

“I had no control over my life anymore, but I realised I did have control over how I reacted. I chose to look at all the things I was grateful for.

“The worst that could happen had happened. It helped me to overcome my fears and go for our dream of owning a small farm. That was through choosing resilience, gratitude and optimism, and we got our dream.”

Women with imposter syndrome – where they doubt themselves and feel like they are not genuine – are a key market she is targeting.

She said the syndrome is “that sense of paralysis and defensiveness, that deep sense that one day you will be found out”.

“You feel that you do not really deserve your job or position and emotionally you do not own your success, even in the face of achievement and despite showing obvious ability.

“The focus of our work here is to empower everyone and in particular women to fulfil their potential in the work setting.”

Crediting a range of supports from Meath Local Enterprise Office, she has developed Martinstown Lodge into, “a professional haven for development”.