“Rising” to the Magickal Awareness of You – Interview with Epona Rise Retreat Centre’s Founder, Hillary Schneider
I love hearing about, connecting to, and co-creating this beautiful new paradigm with other visionaries. So many amazing souls are shining their lights these days within the creative and healing arts world and it is these very souls that are paving the way to a new reality that not only is focused on authentic self-expression, but weaves co-creative community, love, and rhythms of natural harmony into the collective frequency field.
We’re about to meet another of these super-inspiring souls in today’s guest interview.
Hillary Schneider is an amazing, heart-based soul that is sharing powerful work through her own unique gifts. I feel so blessed to know Hillary and from the instant we connected online, it’s been a beautiful and synchronous flow that we know is simply a reconnection continuing on.
We are all reuniting with soul families these days and it is increasingly, more rapidly, and more instantaneously taking place with conscious awareness. Why? Because we are, together, integral threads to what is collectively being woven as a new reality. And that recognition, implemented into action, is the foundation for shifts we are creating.
Hillary and I connected, as I said, via the web. She found me online and followed a nudge to reach out. I, in turn, reciprocated, feeling something amazing there energetically between us just from onset of reading/feeling the energy in her email. Shortly after, we connected via telephone and it was such a beautiful resonance of family, through hearing and feeling resounding expressions and experiences. During the course of our “reconnecting”, we have come to find so many parallels between our experiences, much in common, and a ton of magickal synchronicities.
And, no sooner did we connect, did it become evident we would be co-creating and collaborating together.
Very soon we will be sharing our venture together, which is looking to be in the summer of 2014. So stay tuned for an upcoming announcement on a special retreat in British Columbia at Epona Rise Retreat Centre that we will be offering from our hearts and the horse’s hearts to yours, in likely June of next year. I’m overflowing with joy and love about this for many reasons, and have already been connecting with Hillary’s beautiful horse family there in my wake and dream experiences.
But today’s post is focused on this star-light, Hillary, who is beautifully weaving her love in service.
Along with her many years and extensive background in working with horses, Hillary has also received intense and in-depth training in both the Co-active coaching and leadership model through the Coach Training Institute, and the equine experiential learning field through Horse Spirit Connections in the art of FEEL. Both trainings have aided Hillary in her development as a gifted facilitator and helped her blossom in her unique skills as leader who is intuitive, wise, gentle, calm and fierce! Hillary is strongly committed and passionate in her partnership with the wise and incredible teachings of the horses. She is grateful and honored to be engaged in this sacred union with the horses and is excited at the opportunity to bring their teachings out into the lives of others through the space that has been created at Epona Rise.
Tania: Did you always know what you wanted to do in life and if so, when did you first have that clarity?
Hillary: I knew from an early age that my purpose would involve horses in some capacity but I didn’t know exactly how that would manifest. I also know I was born, in some extent, being aware that I was here to fulfill a purpose and that this form that I was in was not “it” and there was a reason for me being here. The horses came into my life early on and have been a guiding light from very young. That, coupled with a strong knowing and desire to be on purpose in some capacity, helped draw me to my purpose and clarity on what it was I was meant to do during my time on earth.
Tania: I find your work to be so unique and a beautiful expression of you. Can you share a little bit about what you do and what you find enriching about it, both for self and others?
Hillary: Loaded question. I will try not to write an essay 🙂 I run a retreat centre where I support others on their path of growth, discovery and awakening all through the way of the horse. The horses are my partners in the facilitation of others, I call them access points or gateways, they provide a really powerful space of reconnection for us to remember who it is we are and begin to rediscover and heal our relationship with our inner voice, spirit, and help us ground into a purpose that is uniquely ours. From my own process of self growth and discovery I have found that not much compares to the power and wisdom of the horse, they just create this really powerful space for us to really see ourselves, our brilliance and connect to who we are in a way that just transcends all boundaries that we may have that has kept us from really tuning into ourselves. For me personally I have always felt most grounded and aware of myself when I was with the horses – the clarity, depth and knowing and touching the depth of who I am has come from being with them. They have also helped me with my own struggle of being in the body and learning how to embrace my humanity and also take claim of the gifts I have brought with me during this lifetime. I have watched others that have come into their space just transform and become so much more present in themselves and empowered in who they are when they are with the horses. What I love most about being with them is that they really help us awaken to our own inner wisdom and remembering that all the answers we have are within us, our intuitive senses sharpen, and we begin to learn how to be in flow with nature and our own cycles. They also provide a loving non-judgmental space for us to see ourselves in a way that feels really safe and sacred for people to be vulnerable and open during the process. Horses are so intuitive and cannot be lied to, in that way they provide such a pure and honest mirror for ourselves, which some people are afraid of because they fear they will only see bad. This is so not true. The beauty of the horse is that they mirror our brilliance. We do a good enough job putting ourselves down and painting distorted images of who we are. The horses remind us of our own purity of spirit which is really beautiful to witness in others as they come into the space with the horse.
Tania: Please tell us a little about your background and training in both Co-active coaching and leadership and how this partners with your equine training in the synergy of the services you offer at Epona Rise Retreat Centre.
Hillary: I was fortunate to grow up in a house where personal growth and development was valued, and with my Dad being a leader and teacher for CTI – Coach Training Institute (one of the top training institutes for personal and professional coach development) – I grew up in a culture and space that really fostered an empowered state of being in relationship. We were always encouraged to express ourselves and were listened to in those expressions. It was actually through my training with CTI in 2006 that I was led to this way of being with the horses. I had just recently left what I thought would be my career of being a horse breeder and was lost as to how I would come to be with the horses. When I was taking the courses I became aware of coaching with horses and the rest was history. I find the coaching will help support people in their process and the tools I learned on how to powerfully empower others has fit beautifully with what the horses naturally do for people. The leadership program really helped me understand who I was as a leader and what my unique gifts that I bring into the space are. It helped me really know my impact which has given me the space to help others do the same. The beauty of the horse is that they help us really integrate the learning on such a deep level and also provide us with instant feedback so we are able to really see, feel, sense and know who we are being and showing up as in each moment. The Co-Active coaching model aligns with what I do with the horses because it is all about seeing people as creative resourceful and whole, and being partners in the work and equals in the process. It is seeing people and knowing that they have all the answers within and there is nothing to be fixed and no solution that needs to come from anyone other than the person. It is empowering them in their own wisdom, greatness and resourcefulness which is what the horses really want for us. To be authentic, congruent and empowered in who we are and knowing that we are so much more than what we think and there is so much available to us within ourselves.
Hillary: Epona Rise Retreat Centre is a life long dream come manifest. I have always wanted to live on a farm and have a retreat centre. I didn’t always know what I wanted to do there, but I always felt that this was a space I was meant to create. It has been a vision I have held for many years and this particular space we are on now came about quite magically! I moved out to BC (British Columbia, Canada) from Ontario, two years ago, after feeling a strong pull that I needed to be out here. Before that time I had been doing the work with the horses out of other facilities until it was time to have my own space. Within a year of being out here I felt the push that it was time to find the space to run the work full time. And so I got really clear on what I needed for the space, allowing the horses to provide their input as well and I put it out there. Within a month a friend drove me to a farm that she thought I would love, which I did but I didn’t have two million dollars to buy, so driving away from the farm that day I said, “ok peeps, if it is meant to happen help make it happen.” Within another two months I received an email from the real estate agent I was working with that she heard of a place that came up for lease and low and behold it was the very same farm. The power of manifestion and intention setting! That was a year ago and after I manifested the space I went from 1 to 5 horses, the horses I have with me were donated or given to our program because they can’t be ridden anymore due to injury, or old age. The work we do with them here is all done on the ground being in the space with the horses, so it was also a way to give the horses a second purpose and to help shift the consciousness of how we hold them. About a month before I was to move onto the space I spent three days in meditation, in nature and with the horses on finding the name of the space that was to be. I find names such a symbolic and powerful thing so I wanted to really create some awareness and feel into the space that was being created. “Epona” came in strongly. She is the Celtic goddess of horses and I really felt that my mission on earth was in such deep resonance with what she represented. I feel like I am fulfilling a purpose that aligns to her energy with horses, women, children, nature and the earth. She was a beautiful symbol to pay homage too. “Rise” comes from “moon rise” and wanting to provide a space where people rise to the consciousness and awareness that they were meant to and rise above the mundane to experience something profound and magical! That is how the space came to be. This is our first setting. There is a bigger property that I hope to call my own one day that will be our home sometime in the future so stay tuned for that!
Tania: What is it about the horses that you feel makes them such powerful teachers, or better yet, as you put it, “co-facilitators”? Please share about how they play a role in the healing at Epona Rise.
Hillary: I have touched on that a little bit and just to expand some more, as prey animals they have a natural heightened sensitivity and intuition to what is happening in their space. They are able to discern and connect to what we are holding within us that we are sometimes and most often not even connected to. They have a purity of vision and connection to energy, emotion, and what is happening to us internally and they mirror that and interact with people according to what they pick up and feel the person is needing. They are honored in the work as teacher. They are co-facilitator and we work together to help support a person in their process. I look to them to guide me and they will look to me to help translate and be messenger for what they are trying to communicate with others. Everything I do here is in partnership with them, from the programs I run to each session I facilitate, I am in constant communication with them and co-creation. They guide the space as much as, if not more than, I do in some capacity. They are aware of things before I am. I joke that I am often the last one to be privy to what is going on:) What is so amazing about this work is that I am blown away every time. What I watch them do with people is amazing. I never know what is going to happen in a session or workshop because I can’t predict what they are going to pick up on or how they are going to respond to each individual, that is the beauty of it, it is so present-moment-unfolding. There is a deep trust between us in the process and a real intuitive flow to what is going on. I really allow them to dictate and lead what we do with someone and how that is going to unfold and my part is creating the space for them to shine in their gifts and purpose in helping us awaken to ours. They are truly amazing animals and I feel deeply blessed and honored that I get to co-create and live in partnership with them.
Hillary: Yes I have, always. More so than people, animals have always felt more kin to me than humans. I remember most of my childhood was spent pretending to be a horse or acting like one! They have been my companions in life and so deeply part of my growth and also safety in a human world that has often felt harsh. I feel like my soul is very intertwined with the animal kingdom, they are my messengers, my guides, my teachers, my strength and are a big part of me being who I am today. They have truly been a saving grace in my life and a place I have found comfort in very dark places in my life. What I love about the space with the horses that is created here is that it creates an opening for the other animals to come and have their wisdom be shared. We often have eagles, herons, birds, my dog and cat that will take part in sessions here, as well, and become integrated into the teachings for others who come here. Every animal here, or that shows up, is witnessed, heard and received as teachers and wisdom keepers.
Tania: What would you consider is the mission you are creating the space for at Epona Rise and are there any programs that you especially love and people that you feel especially called to serve?
Hillary: My mission and an anchor for me with Epona is really honoring and fullfillment of purpose. It is a space that provides fulliment of the purpose of the horse and of myself. My hope is to help others connect with my clarity to theirs. Honoring each person’s unique journey, and honoring every person, animal, and being in their voice, in their wisdom, in their strength and teaching others to do the same. I am particularly called to help people whether that be women, children, or men in awakening to their purpose, and living a life that is in alignment with their unique truth. Working with sensitive people, especially youth and young adults, is another area that I feel especially called to serve. The horses have taught me so much about my sensitivity, how to honor it, and how to be with it in a world that often feels really overwhelming at times. They have taught me about grounding, sacred space and boundaries and how to be true to who I was. There is also a resonance to work with those that are struggling to be in human form, as this was a big part of my own journey. There is a reason why we are in a human body and the horses taught me how to honor and embrace this, and to heal my relationship with humanity. This is who I want to help and the horses have been such a powerful teacher and space for this. I do think though that everyone can benefit from the horses and trust that whoever is meant to come into the space will be led here!
Tania: What is a typical day at Epona Rise like for you?
Hillary: There is no such thing 🙂 haha! Typical day…well there are daily chores that have to get done everyday so my morning usually is feeding the horses hay and connecting in with them, making sure they have had a good night, and everyone is well. Good way to get grounded first thing in the morning too! Then I will either move into a walk with my dog, and then sessions, or if I don’t have sessions in a day I usually spend it writing, or spending time on the business. Typically I will schedule 2 sessions a day, about 4-5 days a week, – maxium 3. Each individual session with the horses are 90 minutes in length. Then late afternoon there is another feeding with the horses where they will get their grain, fed hay, and I usually clean out their shelter, and again spend some time out in nature and in their space grounding from the day. Each day is a bit different and I really just flow with the currents of the day. At least 1-2 weekends a month we hold workshops with the horses as well. Then there is always yard care and house care in there as well 🙂 I also spend some time at the end of each day meditating and journaling before I head to bed for the night and tune into any intentions or energy I wish to create on the space.
Tania: To me, you are a shining example of exactly why I enjoy doing these interview articles – a courageous soul who is living her dream and following the authenticity of her heart. I applaud you and honor the beautiful way in which you have woven your intentions into the manifestation of your heart’s calling. Can you please share how you have been able to turn your dreams into a reality and what advice you would like to gift others that you have found to be the most valuable along your journey to create this?
Hillary: Great question and thank you!! I am so passionate about this because my desire is to inspire others that it is possible to live a life that is in alignment with your purpose and you can live a life of your dreams. For me, perseverance and holding the vision has been key. I held onto this vision with a vice grip – it’s what got me through the times when I didn’t know how, when, where, why and felt lost and just persevering on the path. Knowing that this step will get me to where it is I am meant to go, even if it didn’t seem so at the time. Letting yourself dream is a huge one too! We don’t allow ourselves to dream enough or dream big. I spend a lot of time creating dreams, vision boards, dream boxes… it is part of a ritual that I do at least every 3 months – putting intentions out into the space and just taking steps towards those dreams, following urges, intuitive guidance, and taking action when I feel guided. Faith and trusting the process is also important, which I am not always so great at! It is hard, but there is always some part of me that believes! Also, surrounding yourself with people that support and empower you in your dreams and reminding you of your beauty, strength and wisdom. That is huge! I am so grateful for the people in my life that have really helped me and supported me in the process, and continue to do so. Give yourself the freedom to dream, be bold in your dreams and your actions, take a leap of faith!! I moved out to BC without any idea of why, or a job, or anything, and just trusted that I was meant to be here. I think really what has worked powerfully for me is a combination of connecting in with my heart and spirit and setting intentions, and then taking action in the physical, asking for help, and big and deep gratitude to my peeps ( who I call my helpers in the unseen ). Prayer and surrender are just as powerful as well! And just keep going. Don’t lose hope. A big one for me was “don’t quit right before the miracle occurs.” And to remember just because we can’t see things happening doesn’t mean there is not something occurring beneath the surface. I love that image of a carrot growing underground. It takes time to nourish something into the light and we have to sometimes be patient with that process and learn how to enjoy the journey along the way!
Tania: What inspires you the most in life and really gets your heart pumping?
Hillary: Great question!! Gosh this is hard to answer, life inspires me! Being on a path that is so aligned with purpose is inspiring. Nature and the horses inspire me and I think the search or seeking of knowing the depth of myself and of others, and watching and being a witness to the awakening of our spirits. Music and dance, and what is coming up for me is the whales. I love love love being out on the water and being in the space with these amazing animals. They inspire me. I feel so in awe of their presence and bigness. I think if I wasn’t doing the work with the horses I would want to be out in the water with the whales! My family inspires me, my friends and community, and the people that have come here to experience the horses always create such joy for me. Deep connections and connecting with others has been rich. I am inspired by the simple, ordinary, and extraordinary experiences in life, and within all that we walk through life with.
Tania: If there was only one thing you could tell all little girls and boys just embarking on their life journeys, about what you have found to be the most important piece of information that has changed your life, what would you tell them?
Hillary: That you are never too young to be know who you are, and what your purpose is, and that there is nothing wrong with who you are. You are a unique and beautiful soul. Don’t ever forget that. Hang onto your dreams like they were precious gems and know that you have wisdom inside of you that is so needed, is valued, and is meant to be shared. You don’t have to live a whole life here to be of service, or to know things that will serve us, the planet, and humanity. You are worthy. Follow your heart, ask for help, and believe in yourself and your dreams. Stay true to you. All will be well. Trust the process and don’t give up on the dreams of your heart!
And thank YOU, Hillary, for sharing and living from your heart’s dreams that you have made a reality. You are truly an inspiration to us all.
You can learn more about and contact Hillary for her services here:
Founder and Creative Director
Epona Rise Retreat Centre
Posted on November 8, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged British Columbia horse retreats, creative arts, doing what you love, Epona Rise Retreat Centre, Goddess Epona, healing arts, interview with Hillary Schneider, living your dreams, Sacred Tattoos, turning your passions into your life's work, visionary artists. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.