By one of those chances in life that seem more intentional than coincidental, Laura and Victoria met 20 years ago when they parked next to each other at a horse show. Laura was immediately impressed by Victoria's horsemanship skills while riding a very young horse at the show. While chatting in between classes, an instant connection was formed and a special friendship quickly blossomed. Laura ended up buying the young horse after the show with the one condition- that Victoria give her lessons about how to work correctly with such a special young mare.
During those many lessons, Victoria utilized her compassionate horsemanship principals as well as her natural intuitive human skills. The original focus of how to work and ride a young horse transformed into a personal journey of self- discovery for Laura and she found herself learning just as much about herself as she did about horsemanship. Both women quickly began to identify the profound insights that horses offered people for personal growth and a dream was born- to create a unique, holistic, horse-centered experiential program that offers soulful healing, profound personal transformation and creative self-discovery opportunities with the horse as co-facilitator.
Since 2010, Laura Forest LCSW, a seasoned psychotherapist and Victoria Petersen, a professional horse trainer and instructor, have trained extensively throughout the country and have combined their individual talents and expertise with 18 years of friendship to partner up and create an exceptional equine facilitated workshop program in the heart of beautiful Bend, Oregon.
WHAT IS DISCOVERY WITH HORSES
Discovery with Horses is a combination of programs offering Equine Experiential Learning workshops that have a unique combination of approaches to self-exploration and personal growth. Although it is not a horseback riding lesson type of experience, its holistic methods bring close interaction with horses into the transformation process, providing a deep and unforgettable experience.
Discovery With Horses is an innovative and uniquely profound opportunity to explore goals for introspection, and personal development with the honest and loving assistance of and interaction with horses. The program has created a learning environment that guides you along a journey of transformation and personal growth using equine guided learning exercises, traditional therapeutic approaches, sacred ritual, yoga, meditation, expressive arts, music and nature-based practices. With the full presence of four-legged friends, they are able to help you maneuver through the challenges that may be blocking your path towards living the life you want, or simply help you regain the power to reconnect with your true self. The Discovery with Horses experience offers a variety of unique personal growth workshops and wellness retreats guided by magnificent horses and expert human facilitators.
The environment provided by Discovery with Horses is a perfect match for the experience intended. The workshops take place among the stunning backdrop of Bend, Oregon. With over 300 days of famous Central Oregon sunshine, fresh juniper breezes and breathtaking open spaces, Bend is the perfect setting for changing lives. There is magic in the air here. Cascadian Stables, the setting for each workshop, is located just 5 miles north of Bend in the quaint community of Tumalo. During your time together, you’ll experience the compassion and wisdom of horses in beautiful outdoor arenas beneath the beautiful Cascade mountain range.
MORE ABOUT LAURA
Laura is a licensed counselor and therapist with over 30 years of experience. In her teen years, her attitude towards life suddenly started to change when she was gifted a horse for her birthday by her grandmother. As a young girl riding her beloved horse "Mi Amado" through the wooded forests of New England, Laura experienced early on the joy and wonder of the human-to-horse connection. She developed a deep love and respect for horses and a strong belief in their spiritual and healing qualities. Laura's interactions and connection with horses was instrumental in helping her navigate through the challenges of adolescence. As a result of her own personal awakenings in the presence of horses, Laura decided to pursue a career in counseling, specialized in trauma recovery and later became a trained Equine Mental Health Specialist. She is passionate about assisting people in their individual journeys of healing and transformation. It was from these personal experiences that Laura co-created Discovery with Horses. With a deep respect and appreciation for each person’s individual journey, Laura creates a safe, compassionate and sacred environment for unbridled discovery, deeper connection to self and others and spiritual renewal and replenishment.
LCSW - Licensed Clinical Social Worker
CEIP - Certified Equine Interaction Mental Health Professional
Certified Equilateral Pprofessional
Laura’s professional affiliations include:
• Academy of Accredited Social Workers
• EMDR International Association
• Equine Assisted Growth & Learning Association
• Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship
• Equine Guided Education Association
• PATH specialist for equine facilitated mental health and education
MORE ABOUT VICTORIA
Victoria’s profound connection with horses has been present since before she could walk and her passion for working with them has been a guiding force throughout her life. Victoria grew up around horses, learning from a young age to care for them, ride them, understand their needs and ways of communication. To support herself while attending college, she was bartending and giving horseback riding lessons. Her friends who would take a horseback riding lesson with her would often tell her she should just do that, as she was not only “a natural” and a really good teacher, but her approach to the lessons involved connecting the human experience and the horse experience in a way that made the student come out with a richer and broader understanding of their own inner state by working on creating that relationship with the horse as they learned to ride them. Victoria was changing lives. She has now been training horses and providing horsemanship lessons, professionally in Central Oregon for over 20 years.
Victoria’s unique bond with her equine partners, along with her excitement to share her love of fine horsemanship in its broad spectrum, has inspired her to develop her innovative Dynamic Horsemanship Program. In her words, “Dynamic Horsemanship is a fusion of classical and compassionate horsemanship principles, somatic experiencing, and spiritual awareness - horsemanship for mind, body, and soul.” Her program encompasses training and riding as well as equine guided experiential therapy and personal growth work. She believes in the healing and soul enhancing power that working with horses can provide humans, which is the essential principle in her work at her ranch, Cascadian Stables in Bend, Oregon.
Victoria's horse training abilities are evident by her accomplishments as a horsewoman and competitor in equine sport, including reining, reined cow horse, cutting and many other performance horse events.
However, Victoria's accolades and accomplishments within the equine industry left her largely unfulfilled. She wanted to create a more holistic program centered around the soulful connection we have with horses. A program that could utilize the healing and empowering essence of true horsemanship. Dynamic Horsemanship, Somatic Equitation, and her Equine Guided Personal Growth and Therapy Workshops are the manifestation of her vision for a more meaningful, congruent career with horses. Victoria partnered with her long-time friend Laura Forest LCSW, to create personal growth workshops and retreats facilitated by horses. During that time, she developed her innovative Somatic Equitation program and an equine guided coaching and team curriculum, in which she draws from over 10,000 hours of experience working with horses and people.
Our equine-facilitated workshops are available for a number of different experiences, groups, individuals and goals, and we also offer individual, personalized workshops and even summer camp programs. Custom designed local workshops are also offered if requested.