Finding authenticity: Riedman shares journey to equus coaching

December 2016 Posted in Community, People, Your Health

Silverton resident Linda Riedman is a certified equus coach. By Kristine Thomas

Silverton resident Linda Riedman could have kept the conversation on the surface level as she shared about her new work as an equus coach. She works with a client and a horse in an arena to uncover unhealthy thought patterns and limiting beliefs that may be holding a client back or causing stress and anxiety. Riedman could have just shared examples how equus coaching has helped her clients transform areas of their life including setting healthy boundaries, finding forgiveness, intimacy and healthy relationships, and self-love and self-care. But that’s not what equus coaching is about and that’s not who she is anymore, Riedman, 41, said. Instead, she revealed the wounds and battle scars that lead her to find her most authentic self and her passion to help others.

“This work has shown me that I have nothing to be ashamed of and that vulnerability will continue to lead me toward personal growth and true connection with others,” she said.

By sharing her story, she hopes to inspire others and show them it is possible to live an authentic life.

“I want to help people love all aspects of themselves, including the sometimes scary, dark, shadow sides we all walk around with everyday,” she said.

Seeking an authentic life

By all appearances, Riedman said she was living the picture perfect life. A beautiful, new home; married to a kind man; a successful career in public relations and a healthy baby boy – all measures of being a success. Graduating from Silverton High in 1993 with a 3.9 GPA, she earned a scholarship to play Division 1 basketball at Santa Clara University. “My life looked great on paper,” she said.

Only, she knew she wasn’t living an authentic life. “I learned I was two separate people,” she said. “On the outside, I was successful and happy Linda, and on the inside, I was broken and unsettled. I lost myself in doing what I thought was expected of me.”

After college, she became a graduate assistant women’s basketball coach at the University of Portland, earning the national honor of “Graduate Assistant Coach of the Year.” After three years at the University of Portland, she earned a masters in business administration, which led her to a 16-year career in public relations. Emphasizing she does not regret her life’s path, what she was doing wasn’t coming from a place of passion. “It was more I should do this,” she said.

The birth of her son in 2009 changed everything.

“I realized I was dying inside and that I was done trying to live two different lives. I was tired of being fake,” she said.  “When I was giving birth, I was able to look within and find my strength. I felt like giving birth woke me up and gave me a sense of empowerment.”

Starting in 2010 when she was 35 years old, Riedman began to piece together an “authentic life,” including a divorce. Her story, she said, requires returning to the beginning and confronting the emotions she buried.

Dealing with the baggage

Riedman grew up on a farm near Silverton and went to Monitor Elementary School. The youngest of six kids in a German Catholic family, Riedman understands much of her emotional baggage stemmed from her father. Explaining he was never physically abusive with her or her family members, she said it was a constant barrage of emotional and mental abuse.

“I had to learn early on how to navigate and live with an abusive alcoholic father,” she said. “I developed many coping mechanisms to protect myself. But deep down, I lived in an intense state of fear and anxiety.”

Problems, she learned, don’t disappear. At college, a coach noticed she had an eating disorder and encouraged her to seek counseling. “I felt out-of-control,” she said. “In my own experience, not eating was a way to control something and a way to escape. It was a way to feel in control of my own body.” Riedman, who is 5-foot, 11-inches, recalls seeing a photo of her playing college basketball and thinking how fragile and breakable she appeared.

“On and off therapy visits throughout my 20s and 30s helped a little, but it wasn’t until my late 30s when I was ready to embrace change,” she said. “That’s when I met with an incredible therapist on a weekly basis who helped me through the painful process of divorce.”

Her therapist encouraged her to “get out of her head and into her heart.”

“I would walk in, start rambling confusion and chaos from my head and eventually she would ask me to take a deep breath and get in touch with my heart,” Riedman said. “It was the first time in my life I even realized there was a connection between my head and my heart. She gave me the gift of beginning to reconnect with my true self.”

With guidance, her life started shifting.

“I began trusting my instincts and noticing when my heart felt inspired to do something rather than my head overthinking I ‘should’ do something,” Riedman said. “It was a completely new way of interacting with the world.  I actually started feeling joy sneak back into my life.”

Discovering Equus Coaching 

In 2014, Riedman had a minor surgery and her sister brought her a stack of magazines to read while recovering. An article in a back issue of O, The Oprah Magazine, “Meet your new therapist: He’s wise, compassionate… and likes to eat hay,” set her on course.

The article about horse whisperer and master life coach Koelle Simpson stopped Riedman in her tracks. Acting upon her instincts, she sign up for an equus workshop called “Finding Your Presence” at a horse ranch near San Diego.
In that setting she learned how to overcome the barriers in her life that were preventing her from being her truest self.

Equus coaching is where clients work with a coach and a horse to understand their own energy and the way their inner dialogue impacts all areas of their lives. Riedman said the horse serves as a mirror to the person’s emotion. If a person is feeling afraid, the horse might back away. If the person is honest about his emotions, the horse might come closer.

“Horses are incredible teachers, who don’t lie,” Riedman said. “They give us immediate feedback and act as a mirror to help spotlight our true emotions and feelings.”

Inspired by the workshop, she applied for an intensive training course from Simpson to become an Equus Coach, graduating last spring. There were many eye-opening experiences, but her favorite story is about Velvet, the horse who taught her more in one day about unconditional love than she could have hoped for in a lifetime.

“The horse looked at me with the big beautiful eyes and there was a huge welling of emotion, and I started crying because I knew it was my late dad and that I was feeling his presence,” she said.

Riedman knows there are many people like her who reach a point where they question what is the purpose of their life. Too many people don’t take the time or energy to find the answer, she said.

Equus coaching workshops
Owning your story, empowering yourself
Saturday, Jan. 21
Finding forgiveness and healing within
Saturday, Feb. 4
Workshop cost: $75 per person, includes lunch. 
Pre-registration required:

“I believe to answer this question, we need to stop seeking answers externally, close our eyes and look within,” she said, adding learning how to be authentic is one of the greatest gifts that she has ever given herself.

“It’s such a relief to know I don’t have to put up a false front to look perfect or to look successful,” Riedman said. “It has brought a much greater sense of joy to my life. Living authentic means I don’t have this internal conflict going on anymore, I’m living in alignment with what I believe is best for me in the moment. It’s the gift of feeling connected to myself on a deeper level.”

Riedman said equus coaching is not meant to fix a client or solve his problems because the client is not broken.

“I believe you have always been a complete soul,” she said. “This program will support you as you rediscover yourself, heal your wounds and begin living your most authentic life.”

Riedman tells her clients they already have the answers. She and the horse are “just here to help you see it and to remove what is preventing you from seeing it.”

Learning to trust again  

A Silverton mother with young children completed the four-week The Journey Within program. Asking that her name be withheld, she still wanted to share her thoughts and feelings about the experience.

“Linda and the program gave me practical practices to recenter my thoughts and ideas about myself as well as my interactions with others,” she said. “I learned to trust myself again. I was able to refocus my energy on myself and my own healing journey. I also gained great insight into the concept that I do not have to go through this journey alone.”

The woman said the program has the ability to reach people where they are in their journey.

“Linda is simply amazing. I felt very safe to explore my thoughts. She has such great insight, wonderful questions and I always felt cared for,” she said.

Being true to herself extends to her other relationships, Riedman said, especially as a mom. She plans to tell her son is what she shares with her clients: that he is already complete. That he is enough.

“He doesn’t need to look anywhere outside of himself for answers. He has all the wisdom he will ever need. He just needs to look within and connect to his deeper self, spirit, whatever he decides to call it,” she said.

“It’s from this place that I hope he can live from and do amazing things in this world.”

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