We make healing with horses accessible and affordable.
We work to bring awareness to a lesser-known field within the arena of personal growth and healing.
The field is healing with horses. And we make it both affordable and accessible online.
Horses are incredibly therapeutic and spiritual beings who are known for their power, their grace, and their healing presence. Horses help us to become present in our bodies and develop leadership in the way we relate to our own minds. They support us to feel and release emotions and sensations connected to trauma and grief and they open pathways for us to align more deeply to our purpose and aliveness.
While many people feel a draw toward horses, there are some very real barriers to finding and sustaining a long-term empowered relationship with these animals. Not only is there a lack of awareness that healing and personal growth with horses is an actual field of practice (and that it can be beneficial to most people), there are the additional challenges of getting access to a horse, finding the right facilitator, and of course, cost!
We believe that engaging in healing and personal growth with horses should be accessible to anyone and everyone who feels called. We are passionate about bringing awareness to the benefits of this work and creating free and low-cost ways for people across racial, gender and economic backgrounds to work with us.
The incredible thing about our method is that it can be used in a potent and powerful way at a distance. This means we can offer it online and participants do not need to have a horse or be in the physical presence of a horse. We bring the horses - invoking their energy through video, story, breath-work, and guided meditations - and we bring the personal growth and healing frameworks that allow you to create a deep and lasting connection with horses and your own Self.
Our method integrates two healing and personal growth frameworks: Equine-Assited Learning and the Internal Family Systems Model. This integration empowers individuals to connect heart-to-heart with horses as teachers and allies, and it invokes an expanded relationship with one’s own psyche that is strengthened by the healing consciousness of the horse and herd.
We recognize racial, economic, ecological and other social injustices to be rooted in the trauma that naturally results when the sacredness of our relationships to our bodies, to one other and to the earth is disrupted due to the misuse of power, colonialism and domination-based paradigms. Our leadership approach is about cultivating a sacred relationship to power through developing embodied, empowered and trauma-informed communication by learning directly from horses, Black women, and nature.
More about Equine-Assisted LEarning (EAL) and Internal Family Systems (IFS)
The way we approach Equine-Assisted Learning at the Embodied Leadership Project exists within a field of equine practice that is aimed less at what we can teach the horse and more on what we can learn from the horse as a leader and wisdom keeper in their own right. This equine field is referred to by several different names depending on who the equine specialist is and where they trained such as: Equine Assisted Practice/Learning (EAP/L), Equine Facilitated Learning (EFL), or Equine Assisted Growth and Development (EAGD).
Diedre West, owner of Healing with Horse Collective, speaks beautifully about this work:
“There is a distinction to be made here: equine specialists working in the realms of EAP/L see horses as the guides or sources of wisdom rather than as the learners in client interactions. Rather than their ability to be ridden or their athleticism being the focus, horses’ ways of being, seeing, and processing, and engaging with the world opens sources of wisdom and enlightenment about our inner selves, our relational dynamics, and all those forces that make us yearn, change, transform, and do things we would not otherwise do (whether creative, destructive, or genius) if we were truly logical, exclusively conscious beings.
That focus on horse as a sentient being full of wisdoms we do not have, distinguishes the goals for working with horses in this field from most every other equine field out there, including natural horsemanship and most liberty training. This is a profound shift about which practitioners find there is an onion-peeling sort of learning to get to the heart of, not just for our clients but for ourselves and our practice/facilitation.”
- Diedre West, Owner of Healing with Horse Collective, from her article, "And So We Begin: Our Role as Practitioner & Facilitator" (http://www.healingwithhorse.org/and-so-we-begin/)
Developed by Dr. Richard Schwartz, Internal Family Systems (IFS) is a model and a method of working with the psyche and soma that views each person’s body and mind being a system of many parts. This principle of multiplicity allows us to develop our Self - our central core & inner compassionate witness, and from this place, develop relationships with the tender parts of us that hold trauma and pain, as well as the parts of us that shield us from this pain and manage our lives to keep the entire system safe.
Internal Family Systems honors and respects each aspect of who we are and invites the wholeness of ourselves to be seen, heard and understood. IFS and Equine-Assisted Learning partner together incredibly well because the model of a system of many parts organized around a witnessing presence mirrors the way horses exist in herds and rest in witnessing awareness. Horses are incredibly therapeutic and help us to not only develop our Self-energy, but model a way of welcoming all aspects of ourselves into the herd where they can be truly heard.
You can learn more about IFS here: https://ifs-institute.com/
We believe in the possibility of diverse communities
where all being’s voices are heard and valued. We are doing the work of undoing oppressive and divisive culture which marginalizes people and experiences, silences our voices, and makes our stories invisible. It is when we have meaningful and connected relationships to others that we think most clearly and creatively and act with innovation, empathy, care and understanding.
Jamila Jackson (she/her), MFA, RYT
Founder and Director
Hi! My name is Jamila and I am the founder of The Embodied Leadership Project. I am a yoga teacher, dancer, equine-assisted learning facilitator and IFS-inspired coach. Horses are a central component of my teaching. I work specifically supporting conversations about trauma-informed embodied and community practice, spiritual development, coming back into contact with nature, ancestral work, negotiating with power and privilege, and initiating a sacred and non-predatory relationship to power.
My purpose in this life is to support people in remembering and healing our sacred sense of belonging to nature. This sense of belonging is everything. It is where our relationship to our ancestors, to our medicines, to our ability to heal and create is rooted. This belonging is where we come from. Rooted in ancient ancestral and yogic spiritual lineages, I collaborate with the horses to offer a contemporary approach that makes this sense of belonging tangible, possible to understand, and accessible in a safe and transformative way. My vision for the world is that we are successfully able to work with trauma, and with power, and also that we are lovingly connected to nature.
Originally from the Bay Area, California, I attended Howard University for two years, received my BA from Hampshire College and my MFA from Wilson College. I study Authentic Movement with Daphne Lowell and Alton Wasson through their Contemplative Dance Workshops and have completed their Year-Long Training Program in Contemplative Dance for professionals. I am an apprentice with The Wild Temple, and have completed a 500 hour Yoga Teacher Training in Sri Vidya Tantra Yoga. I trained in Equine-Assisted Learning with Lori Halliday and Farah DeJohnette and I continue to be mentored by both. My background in dance, cultural & community expressive arts, natural horsemanship and emotional and trauma release work has helped to shape the leadership model I offer through the Embodied Leadership Project.
I have been performing, lecturing, teaching classes, leadership trainings and workshops at colleges, universities, schools, community centers and conferences for the past 10 years, some of which include: Mills College, Hampshire College, Mt. Holyoke College, Smith College, Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter School, Amherst Regional High School, La Pena Cultural Center, American College Dance Association Festival, CLPP Conference, Claremont Middle School, Earthdance Center for Creative Living, The Cummington Church.
Learn more about my creative work through visiting my Artist Portfolio
Primary Equine Collaborator
The Embodied Leadership Project received funding from the Kaleidoscope Institute Semester of Justice Grant to deepen our ability to bring the healing and trauma-sensitive wisdom of horses to the community. Through the grant, Jamila was able to buy Angus and launch our Equine Facilitated Learning (EFL) Program.
Young Women's Program Members
The Young Women’s Program is a supportive, empowering and connected community for young Black Women to engage with and train in a powerful, culturally relevant and liberating approach to leadership. The program provides free leadership training combined with opportunities for paid research and teaching through ELP and BWLI. Learn more about this program here.