Susan Gordon – Co-Author of Compassionate Equestrian

Podcast Show Notes

Equine Business Builder, Laura Kelland-May, horse business, horse podcast
Susan Gordon – Co-Author of Compassionate Equestrian

Could you tell us a bit about what you do?  

I refer to myself as a “retired” trainer, although I am not officially retired from anything! I am heavily involved in everything I love to do, which includes continuing to ride for one client at a private home, pursue photography and art, and run. I race competitively and am currently preparing for two upcoming track meets. As well, I have a show of photography and paintings going up next week for the month of August at our local library.

How did you get started with your product/book/ riding?  

The book came about after several decades in the equine industry. My riding obsession began as a junior with a grade mare in the little town of Williams Lake, B.C., famous for its Stampede. Prior to acquiring my own horse, I was dragging my Mom to the pony rides in Vancouver’s Stanley Park as a youngster. That’s where I really got hooked on horses. I loved to study horse training and got my hands on as many books as I could, as well as reading magazines. “Horse & Rider” was my go-to mag in the early days. I was 14 years old and boarding my Appaloosa filly at a mixed-use, primarily Quarter-horse show barn in Calgary when I was introduced to jumping. I eventually sold my Western tack and switched over to English. In 1977 and 1978, Spruce Meadows started coming to our barn’s schooling shows. I approached Mrs. Southern and was fortunate enough to have her allow me to move my newly-acquired Appaloosa colt to the now-famous facility. I turned professional in 1983, after moving back to B.C. I was running an eventing barn with my ex-husband, whom I had met at Spruce Meadows. Soon afterward, I was hired by the late Michael Patrick to ride for him at Pine Meadows in Aldergrove. The Compassionate Equestrian is the cumulative result of all those experiences, and my personal journey through the joys and disappointments of riding and training as a professional. It is also a statement regarding some of the changes of heart and awareness I would like to see take place in riders that I believe would have a very positive effect on many riders of all ages, and hopefully the industry as a whole.

What do you think is the number one thing holding back people from doing what they want to do? 

Listening to other people, who—for some reason that usually stems from their own experiences and limitations—tell you that you can’t or shouldn’t be doing something. Yes, you must be realistic, but if you operate based solely on the opinions of others, especially if they have made you feel as though you’re doing something wrong when you know you aren’t, or are simply working toward becoming better, then a good practice of self-compassion is highly recommended. Remove the toxic people from your life.

Confidence is so important, and that confidence is conveyed through your product or skill. People appreciate authenticity more so than ever these days too. There is so much “noise” in the average person’s world, it is hard to find the appropriate balance between promoting oneself and skills/products, yet not becoming one of those annoying spammers whose posts and e-mails get deleted before being read.

There are popular clinicians and authors who travel consistently and I think it becomes a very wearying thing for them to carry on with at some point. The costs and cumbersome details of travel, especially internationally, have become prohibitive, and justifying costs against profits can be a challenge. I’ve chosen to promote The Compassionate Equestrian primarily through social networking rather than personal travel. It has been interesting to keep a close eye on trends via the multitude of online groups, individuals, and businesses related to the equine industry, all over the world. The book is meant to have a global reach, and technology allows us to have that reach very quickly.

How did you come up with your idea for your book?  

I had given up on teaching and training after 2 major issues arose while I was in Arizona. One, being climate change, and the other, the economic crash of 2008. Between the ever-increasing strength of the wind and dust storms and unusually high heat (even for Arizona), and the fact that some clients could no longer afford lessons, I eventually gave up. I went to film school in Vancouver with the intention to make a documentary about the plight of off-track thoroughbreds. My instructor encouraged me to look into the “dark side” of racing and the ultimate horrific demise of many ex-racehorses. The process led me to a woman who was very well versed in the industry and gave me a lot of insight into the backstories behind the slaughter issue. I was mortified, and realized I would need a huge legal team to go ahead with the documentary. So I shelved it. Then I made an exploratory trip to Salt Spring Island, just of the coast west of Vancouver, and ended up staying in a house that was owned by a client in the U.S. It was for sale, so it was a fortuitous set of circumstances that allowed me to stay there for the past 3 years, writing The Compassionate Equestrian. The idea flowed out of my desire to make the film, but quickly turned to thoughts of a book after I met Dr. Schoen on the island. We had very similar feelings about the state of horses, showing, and training from our personal perspectives and backgrounds, so our dialogues just worked out in a manner that was conducive to what became a rather lengthy tome.

What do you think is the number 1 reason people succeed when others don’t?  

Focus and willpower. I always told my students that if you want to do well at something, you have to do it a lot. It also helps to have an inspiring and very experienced mentor, which was most certainly the case in the form of my first riding instructor, the late Senior Judge and TD, Margaret Ellard of Calgary. My determination and perseverance with the horses, in spite of not being wealthy, is what got me through every situation I faced during my career. I knew I had been taught well, which got me through down times and criticism from others.

What was one of the major “roadblocks” you experienced when you set out on your journey?

As a trainer, I had only my reputation to work with, and the fact that I was riding for one of the continent’s top equitation stars. My own horses had to be sold due to limited expenses, including a fantastic young Hanoverian that would have been good enough to take to Grand Prix. I knew I was still learning, but appreciated every opportunity to ride Michael’s horses. They had a feel unlike any others I had ridden, and it was due to his talent that instilled an extraordinary jump even in a horse that may not have jumped so well under a different rider.

As for the book, there wasn’t much of a roadblock to the process. The words seemed to emerge without constraint and before I knew it, I had a much larger manuscript than anticipated. Coordinating times to get together for discussions with my busy veterinarian coauthor was probably the biggest challenge due to his active practice in New York and Connecticut. We made all the deadlines however, as once again, that focus and perseverance I was taught early in my career as a rider paid off!

What was the big “a-ha” moment when you knew you overcame one of the major roadblocks?  

I knew my own talent as a rider was confirmed when I won two gold medals in show jumping in the B.C. Summer Games in 1983 on a little b-track Thoroughbred mare who had failed in her second career as a cutting horse. She sold right after the Games, and then Michael approached me to ride at his barn. It was an opportunity I leapt at. Not having a top show jumper of my own did not seem to matter at the time, as I had done enough with a horse that was literally handed to me as a project only a year prior. She was so difficult nobody else enjoyed riding her, so it was a huge breakthrough for me to overcome the feeling that I needed a more extensive background with my own horses before being accepted into a top A-Circuit show barn as a professional.

STAY TUNED FOR PART 2 – Where Susan Gordon gives some equitation tips.


Dr Schoen Interview Part 2 – Equitation Tips

Dr. Schoen Interview Part 2 – Equitation Tips!

Why is good equitation or riding well, so important?

Equine Business Builder, Horse Podcast, Laura Kelland May
Dr. Allen Schoen, Co-Author of The Compassionate Equestrian

Good equitation or riding is one of the keys to connecting with your horse in a more loving, compassionate way and thereby preventing many of the health problems and lameness that veterinarians end up treating.

What is the biggest challenge you see people are struggling with their equitation?

I sense that one of the greatest challenges again is not coming from a deep sense of compassion for their horse and themselves. If one has a busy mind, distracted, not centered on the moments with their horse and what is best for both of them, then one can easily become distracted by countless other things.

What are some tips you could give RIGHT NOW to help people listening to either prevent, stop or correct the problem?

I would say that incorporating the key principles of the Compassionate Equestrian approach could help riders and their horses more than anything else. For example, simply taking 10 minutes before interacting with your horse and quieting ones heart and mind and creating a time of quiet focused intention could be of more benefit than anything else. Neuroscience now shows us that simply taking 10 minutes each day to focus on compassion for all beings can change our brains and our heart.

That is the foundation for both preventing and correcting so many problems.

If we do not transform our thoughts, our hearts and our minds, we may simply be putting temporary band-aids on problems.  I invite everyone to read “The Compassionate Equestrian” and see how incorporating some of these simple approaches to their own health and happiness can make their horses and themselves healthier and happier. Integrating these approaches will improve their equitation skills as well as helping themselves, their horses, their friends and families and expand out even further to be of benefit to all beings and the world community.  This is what we are seeing from horse lovers who are integrating these approaches into their lives.

Thank you for inviting me on your program and to share the insights we are sharing in “The Compassionate Equestrian”. I invite you all to become part of the compassionate equestrian movement through that my co-author, Susan Gordon facilitates.  May your choices and actions be of benefit to all beings!

Thank you Laura and let me know if this addresses what you would like to discuss. Talk soon,

Dr. Allen Schoen Co-Author of The Compassionate Equestrian

Podcast Show Notes

1. Could you tell us a bit about what you do?

Dr. Allen Schoen, Equine Business Builder, Laura Kelland May, Horse Jobs
Dr. Allen Schoen Co-Author of the Compassionate Equestrian

I am a pioneer in integrative, holistic veterinary medicine , author, social entrepreneur and am currently developing more compassionate approaches to animal health care.

To read more about Dr. Allen Schoen, please visit his author site.  Or you can visit

2. How did you get started with your product/book/ riding?

Along the journey in my continuing exploration of the question “What is Ultimate Healing?” for all beings, I was beginning to feel that any new approach to animal health care was almost like putting a band-aid on the Titanic, so to speak. Through various personal experiences I felt that the key create a deeper, more permanent healing of animals was to help heal the hearts and minds of human caretakers of our animal companions.

Through various synchronicities, I came to the realization that developing a compassionate heart and mind was the essence of creating a more compassionate, healthier, happier world. I was working on a book for all animal lovers when Susan Gordon, a holistic horse trainer approached me about creating a film and or book on a more compassionate approach to horses. Together, we discussed our different perspectives as a holistic integrative veterinarian and a horse trainer and felt that the combination could be of benefit to horses and their human caretakers.

3. What do you think is the number one thing holding back people from doing what they want to do?

These days, it seems there are endless ways that one can so easily become distracted. I sense that distraction from ones passion keeps everyone so busy. I call it “busy mind traffic”.

If one takes time to create times of quiet focused intention” and quiet themselves inside for a period of time each day, then one can come from a clearer place inside regarding what they would like to do. I would say that quieting the mind and heart is the key thing that holds people back from what they want to do.

For example you have a great product – why do you think people are not “going for it”?

Everyone is so busy and easily distracted by endless social media, endless to do lists, and they go from one distraction to another, ignoring one of the most important things in life, loving kindness and compassion for all beings. One of my favorite sayings when offering workshops is “One fills their life with distractions until they die, unless they wake up”. Every choice we make is an opportunity to create more distraction in our lives or to wake up. The choice is ours in each and every moment.

For example you are travelling and working and riding? What is the biggest set back that people face when trying to do what you do?

The biggest set back seems to be our busy mind traffic and endless to do lists. Becoming clear on what your passion is, what you would most like to do to be of benefit to the world and focusing your attention on that will create a foundation for your passion to manifest.

4. How did you come up with your idea for your book?

the Compassionate Equestrian, Laura kelland may, Equine Business Builders, horse jobs
The Compassionate Equestrian

I was working on a book like “The Compassionate Equestrian”, for all animal lovers based on my experiences and asking myself what the next step on my exploration of what is ultimate healing, and then Susan Gordon introduced herself to me and said she would like to do something like that for horses. Through long discussions, “The Compassionate Equestrian” unfolded.

5. What do you think is the number 1 reason people succeed when others don’t?

I would say one needs to have a vision, a passion for what they want to do and then the persistence to create it despite obstacles along the way.

6. What was one of the major “roadblocks” you experienced when you set out on your journey?

I realized that it could be quite a challenge to help people look at themselves and their lives with a more expansive view of how they might want to be of benefit to all beings. Sometimes, that question is not asked. If one does not ask the right questions, when will not come up with the right answers. Having people explore these deeper questions in the midst of our busy lives and busy minds can be quite challenging. Creating “The Compassionate Equestrian Movement” based on the 25 principles in the book takes time, focus and effort. I am pleased to see how many equestrians are reading the book, recognizing the essence of our message and shifting their perspective and approach to create a more compassionate equestrian community and through that helping to make the world a happier, healthier place for all beings.

7. What was the big “a-ha” moment when you knew you overcame one of the major roadblocks?

When I listened to my deep, silent inner voice and knew deep in my heart, that the approaches we discuss in “The Compassionate Equestrian” were the keys to ultimate healing and to help horses, horse lovers and the world.


Thank you for inviting me on your program and to share the insights we are sharing in “The Compassionate Equestrian”. I invite you all to become part of the compassionate equestrian movement through that my co-author, Susan Gordon facilitates. May your choices and actions be of benefit to all beings!