Who’s your Animal Therapist?

It’s the beginning of a new year and time to begin my long-overdue blog posts. I have been talking about writing regular blogs for a while because I’ve met some amazing people and their animals — you have truly touched my heart. 

This blog aims to share stories, knowledge, and tips and tricks to keep your animals happy and healthy between their structural alignment sessions. I hope you get to know a bit about who I am through this as well.

What better place for my first blog than to share where it all started? Some of you know a bit about me, some too much (sorry!), and some of you, nothing at all. 

This post will tell you where I started and how I got to be an Equine Therapist. I hope to provide insight into who I am and how I genuinely care about what I do.

How I came to be an Equine Therapist

First of all, I can’t believe it’s been twenty years since I started this fantastic journey! How the time passes when you’re doing what you love. Let’s start at the beginning.

Where I come from

A bit about my past life: at 19, I worked a “normal” government job. I had steady pay, benefits, salary, all the stuff that makes a responsible, adult job. I worked in corrections, which taught me amazing interpersonal skills that my life heavily depended upon at times. 

I had to learn conflict resolution quickly as I couldn’t over-muscle at my size, and this taught me I could overcome many things. I believe everything put in front of us is a learning experience for things to come in our life. 

Four and a half years later, I took a leave of absence, against all common sense, and moved down to the Cayman Islands. I was a bartender and videographer on a tour boat. 

My boyfriend at the time came to visit, fell in love with the island and me, and moved there. We got married in 2002  and moved back to Canada a year later to continue our life together.

Tina with her husband Bryan

Why Equine Therapy?

I found myself in need of a new career and happened upon an Equine Therapist certification course. My love for horses and all animals called, and I knew this was for me. 

I had always been interested in the body’s structure, and the combination felt magical when I learned I could help the animal’s healing process that way. I truly believe that when you support the body in the right ways, the ability for it to heal itself is an incredible thing to witness. 

I went through the interview process and was accepted immediately.

Equine Therapy body work

I will tell you that living in the Cayman Islands was a lifestyle, not a get-rich-quick scenario. I had to phone my Dad and ask for the tuition. Equine therapy, at this time, was not a well-recognized modality even though different systems have been around for over 100yrs

As you can imagine, my father knew nothing about this practice, but luckily his wife was a horse lover and had heard of it. She was all for it and helped talk my dad into assisting me. 

Once we made the decision, the process flowed effortlessly from being accepted to enrolling to starting the Equine Therapy certification. I have never looked back.

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After my Equine Therapy certification

After I completed the Equine Therapy certification, which was a fantastic growing process for me emotionally, I also stepped into being a sole proprietor and had to learn how to run a business. When you become an entrepreneur, a lot of stuff comes up. 

When you’re working a 9-5 under someone else, the business’s growth is solely on them and their company. When you’re an entrepreneur, it’s all you. If you aren’t willing to grow and self-actualize, your business will be left behind.

How I started out

When I was working 9-5 under someone else, I just showed up for work and followed the schedule given to me. Now, it was me. This was my business, my responsibility, and people were buying into me. Talk about a vulnerability hangover!

I needed to figure out how to find clients. I had no network in the equine industry in the Lower Mainland. I had no connections. I started putting brochures in mailboxes (remember this was before social media!) and delivering them to farms, riding/boarding stables, and anywhere else that I saw horses in the field. I drove many kilometres and used a lot of fuel! 

Pushing through the emotions

There is something to be said about fake it ‘til you make it. I remember working on my first client, feeling terrified and like a fraud. Even though I had the skills and was probably doing a better job than I thought, I had not built up my confidence yet. My classmates’ and teachers’ support was not with me in the field — I had cut the umbilical cord. I passed my program with flying colours, but I still doubted myself. 

I will tell you, after my very first client, I left feeling so many emotions — doubt, self-worth, low self-esteem, you name it — that I felt physically unwell. I am still here twenty years later because I didn’t let it stop me. I was open to growing and learning and my passion and vision were stronger than the self-doubt that came up. Sometimes the fear doesn’t go away and I did it afraid anyway. That is how I began to leave the fear behind (I moved through it).

I want to acknowledge my husband, Bryan, and the support of my fellow therapists I could call to bounce things off of when I came upon them. Their support allowed me to stay brave and keep moving forward, actualizing my potential.

Let’s talk about the animal therapy biz

Let’s talk about referrals and trust. I believe getting referrals is the most powerful marketing model out there and what has created the foundation of my Equine Therapy business. It took just one client to trust me and start the referral of my business to cause the ripple effect that put me where I am today. 

I have helped thousands of horses, hundreds of dogs, a handful of cats, a few sheep, and two goats — this is just the tip of the iceberg. My vision of how to help many, many more animals is vast. The transformations of the animals I have worked with and my willingness to grow and develop with other practitioners have helped build my strengths, confidence, and knowledge to where it is today.  Please see my services page for more information.

Tina Colter with her beautiful dog
Never give up on your dreams

If I can offer a piece of advice through this, it would be to never give up. You may have to shift and pivot through your journey and that’s okay — things will come up. Just have a clear vision of where you are going. I wanted my business to succeed so badly, so I kept taking the next steps toward it. 

My passion is supporting the healing of animals and reaching as many as possible to decrease their pain and improve their mobility. In the process, they help heal me. They speak to me so much in their actions and demeanors. I learn an incredible amount from them, and you, their owners. 

I am truly blessed to be a certified animal therapist. I look forward to continuing to connect with every one of you near and far. I enjoy every minute I spend with your beloved animals, getting to know them and you. If we are willing to listen, animals tell us everything we need to know.