Calgary, AB T3B 4V7
Gabriela Ostendorfer’s love for horses began as a typical story, as a young girl. One of her most vivid horse memories is captured in a photo, taken in 1962 at the tender age of 8, showing her riding a horse at summer camp. Imagine riding a horse every day! Today, the photo has a prominent place on her altar as a reminder of her early love.
The other memory remaining with Gabriela is of visiting family friends and sneaking into a neighbouring pasture at night with a girlfriend to cut hair from a horse’s mane and tail to make braids. Talk about risky behaviour!
Riding a horse back then was just that, an activity to be indulged for an hour or two at a time. There was little or no connection with the horse on other levels. Little did Gabriela know then what she knows now!
Life with horses began fading into the background as Gabriela went on to complete schooling and build a career as an educator, consultant, coach and speaker. After completion of Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Education degrees, she worked as a teacher in a variety of school settings with various grade levels. Her graduate degree in Behavioural Sciences was her first taste of experiential learning and allowed her to develop and use leadership skills as a consultant with school staff and students in a Healthy Schools Partnership Initiative in the Calgary area.
Her role as Coordinator of Work Experience Programs provided her with further opportunities to connect with students in an authentic and real life way. She was no longer the sage at the front of the room but the mentor or guide at the student’s side. This role felt more comfortable and it is no surprise that Gabriela continued to search for opportunities to feed this desire for connection with her self and others in deeper ways. Her search led to training with CTI, The Coaches Training Institute. Their model of Co-Active Coaching using experiential learning and a whole life coaching approach fed Gabriela’s yearning for helping others to discover, explore and live life to its true potential. Gabriela was fortunate to work in a Women’s Venture Initiative, coaching women who were learning to become entrepreneurs. Her main role as Coach was to help the women shift their mindsets and adopt new belief systems about themselves and their place in the world. After a few years, Gabriela could sense something was missing during the coaching sessions; lots of being in the head (mental) and not enough being in the body (emotional.)
During her late 50s, a period of grief and mourning awakened Gabriela’s curiosity about body-mind-spirit connection and she began paying attention to her own body and learning to listen to its messages. She discovered a modality that invited and allowed her to reconnect with her body on deeper, more intimate levels. She began attending twice weekly classes in Core Connexion Transformational Arts, a movement/dance practice based on embodiment and presence. Her training as a Facilitator opened new learning about how stress, trauma and injury may be held in the body and how movement, breathwork and presence are resources in healing.
A few years ago, horses began calling Gabriela back. They appeared to her in a number of ways, yet this time the calling came from another source, Spirit. Gabriela knew that her way of being in the world was now on a spiritual level and she trusted the Universe would show her the way. Through a series of synchronicities, she discovered the FEEL program (Facilitated Equine Experiential Learning) and knew in her heart that she had returned home and found her place. Entering the world of horses as healers and teachers was outside Gabriela’s comfort zone. Horses are unconditional and truly live in the present moment. They are perfect teachers! Their wisdom comes from a deep, ancestral consciousness. This new awareness would set the stage for further discovery and exploration. Gabriela’s perseverance and intrinsic knowing that this was her path helped her gain confidence and develop effective skills as a FEEL Practitioner.
Throughout her life, common themes have bubbled to the surface. These themes translate into deeper relationships with self, with others and with the world. Gabriela believes the FEEL activities are the next step in coaching those who are ready to reignite their lives with embodiment and emotions. She welcomes opportunities to work with others in small group workshops and one-on-one settings. Gabriela looks forward to continuing her exploration of the magical and mystical world of horses and sharing it with others as a FEEL Practitioner.