The Challenge has begun & Enrollment is currently closed.

EMBODY CHANGE. MOVE DIFFERENTLY. Step outside your comfort zone, grow your body awareness & interspecies communication skills while improving your horses confidence, connection and engagement - in just 7 days!

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Improve your balance, spatial awareness, timing and feel with this unique and inspiring challenge for equestrians and dancers!

Are you ready to begin the Next-Level of personal development in your movement, your horsemanship, your relationships... Your LIFE?

Think outside the box... ride outside the arena... dance outside the studio!

  • Do you ever wonder if there is something more you could be doing with your horse?

  • Are you tired of the same old groundwork exercises that just don't seem to be improving your horse, your partnership, or your riding as much as you'd hoped?

  • Do you ever feel frustrated because it seems like you'll never be as athletic or graceful as your horse, and maybe you worry you are holding your horse back from acheiving his or her potential?

  • Do you love to dance, and love horses, but haven't quite been able to figure out how to combine the two, even though they seem like they should go hand-in-hoof?

  • Do you ever wish you had access to a group of like-minded people who are also interested in deeper connections with horses, non-verbal communication, expression through movement, and inter-species research?

I totally understand!

Not long ago, I was standing in the arena with my horse, drawing a total creative blank of what I could be doing next...

As a horse trainer and riding instructor, I pretty much always know what to do if you put me in front of a horse, and I love my work helping horse owners and riders to become more connected with their horses and more comfortable in their bodies. As a dancer, I feel pretty confident moving and grooving, sensing and feeling, and it brings me joy. It seems like the natural next step to put two of my passions together!

One day, I was standing in the arena with my horse, wanting to dance with him, but drawing a total blank of what to do next, and I found myself asking these questions:

OK, I definitely want to dance with my horse, so... Now what?

How exactly does one dance with a horse?

I realized that I needed help to find the answers I was seeking.

To help me answer my questions, I reached out to some very accomplished dance and somatic educators to coach me through the process of combining dance with horses. This is a topic I've been interested in for some time, and for the last year I've been diving in deeper by hosting Inter-Species Research LABs with JoAnna Mendl Shaw, the Artistic Director of The Equus Projects, at my farm in Oregon.

What I've found is a brand new way to BE with horses + a treasure trove of useful information for equestrians to improve our body-awareness and non-verbal communication skills!

I have also realized on a whole other level that as humans, we are born to move, and that dancing is an important and essential natural human behavior. Movement feels good, and it is incredibly good for the body, mind and spirit! I think this is one of the reasons we are so drawn to horses, and why we can't get enough of watching them move, or wanting to ride them, to become a part of them...

Join me as I embark upon this journey of learning and growing to become a better dancer and a more effective communicator, get more 'in' my body and 'in the moment,' and as I bring these skills into the arena and pasture with my horses to see how it affects my horsemanship... so I can dance with my horses, and feed my soul.

My horses love-Love-LOVE doing this stuff!

- Alissa

To hear the what, the why, and the story of how this challenge came to be, watch this video!

What is the Dancing with Horses Challenge?

A totally unique experience. Seven days and 14 lessons from world-class Horsemanship, Dance & Somatics Instructors, plus community, support and coaching. Connect with your inner light and most congruent self, and invite them out to play with your horse.

Meet Your Instructors

Program Director, A Somatic Approach to Horsemanship

Alissa Mayer

Alissa Mayer BA EHSE-C is an author, trainer, clinician and Hanna Somatics Educator for Horses and Riders. Her unique approach to horses is based on building a foundation of connection, somatic integration and inter-species understanding to create the kind of well-being and true partnerships that most equestrians dream of. Mayer has been the mind-body instructor, interspecies-relationship advisor and Somatic Educator to dressage trainers, Olympians, dancers, fitness instructors, business owners, grandmothers, horsemanship gurus, recreational horse riders and thousands more people wanting to be more supple and pain free. She has taught clinics, workshops and professional training programs all over the US, Canada, and 7 EU countries. Alissa lives in rural Oregon where she is raising her identical twin sons on the family farm shared with her parents and 4 horses.

Artistic Director, The Equus Projects

JoAnna Mendl Shaw

JoAnna Mendl Shaw is an internationally recognized choreographer and dance educator whose unique inter-species approach to movement education and choreography has influenced dancers throughout the States and in Europe. Shaw's site works for The Equus Projects bring dancers and horses into shared landscapes in works made for festivals, arts presenters, equine venues and museums. Equus has created works in 18 States and in Europe. The Equus Projects' OnSite NYC series has brought kinetic invention into urban landscapes since 2012.

Guest Instructor, Continuum Somatics

Bonnie Simoa

Bonnie Simoa, RSME/T, MFA Dance from Mills College, is lead dance faculty at Lane Community College. Bonnie infuses somatic principles into teaching dance technique, creative process, yoga, Continuum, and moving meditation. Her explorations into the potency of movement and its healing potentials have led her around the world to study Balinese dance in Bali, Pribadi Art with Buddhist movement master Suprapto Suryodarmo in Java, and yoga and singing in India. For the past 20 years she has focused her studies on Balinese dance, and regularly performs the Legong, Rejang, and Gabor dances. She lives in Eugene, Oregon with her husband Lytton and their two 9.6 lb rescue dogs Roxie and Sylvie.

What's included in the Challenge?

Here is everything you will get when you join:

  • 14 Challenge Lessons - each day you get TWO lessons, one for embodiment of the concept, and one to do with your horse. These will work for you no matter what age, breed or type of horse you have. This challenge contains only groundwork exercises.

  • The Dancing with Horses Challenge Digital Workbook.

  • Private online coaching & support with our coaches in the private Facebook group for the 7 days of your challenge. You can ask any questions you have & submit videos of your progress for extra advice (optional).

  • Advice & help when you need it, 7 days a week, with 3 months access to the facebook group included.

  • A Live Q&A Session in the group with Alissa Mayer & JoAnna Mendl Shaw

  • 54-page EBook: Inviting an Interspecies Dialogue - The Five Agreements of A Somatic Approach to Horsemanship™ by Alissa Mayer

  • Book Excerpt: The Art of Leading & Following, by JoAnna Mendl Shaw

  • INVITATION to submit videos to be included in our next Interspecies Research LAB!

Hear from Participants


A Unique Connection...

by Jeanne

We had our normal greeting and Winnie moved off while Shilo (boss horse) stayed with me very quietly. I pictured Ruby’s dance and imitated it. Shilo stood perfectly still and it was a unique connection. Then I headed further down the hill through the trees to the barn. However, I was not walking! My arms and body were recreating the movements from our exercise. I was singing out loud with some crazy words, but feeling so free. Winnie joined me quickly and suggested we play together so we did. What a character. My cues were lighter and he danced and was so proud of himself. Thank you again for all you and your team are doing to create these successful classes.

The Dancing with Horses CHALLENGE

There has never been a training challenge like this before!

Dancing with Horses CHALLENGE Curriculum

  • 1


    • Welcome! The WHAT, WHY & HOW with your hosts Alissa Mayer & JoAnna Mendl Shaw

    • 10 Rules for Students and Teachers

    • Before we begin - Introduce Yourself!

  • 2

    Let's Get Started...

    • INSPIRATION - Dancing with Horses

    • SYLLABUS - What to expect over the next week

    • DWH Workbook & BONUS Downloads

  • 3

    7-day CHALLENGE Lessons

    • Day 1a - Introduction to the Grazing Score

    • Day 1b - Creating a Pasture Dance with the Grazing Score

    • Day 2a - Introduction to the Imprint Score, with Objects

    • Day 2b - Creating an Imprint Score with your Horse

    • Day 3a - The Scaffold of Awareness & Support

    • Day 3b - A Grounding & Awareness Exercise to help your Horse

    • Day 4a - Introduction to Tracking in the Barn/Studio

    • Day 4b - Tracking Exercises with Your Horse

    • Day 5a - Finding and Feeling your BackSpace

    • Day 5b - One Mover, One Watcher with Your Horse

    • Day 6a - Intro to Contralateral Movement & Body Organization

    • Day 6b - New Ways to Move With & Around your Horse

    • Day 7a - Connecting the Dots (Coming Soon...)

    • Day 7b - Connecting the Dots to Create a Dance with your Horse (Coming Soon...)

  • 4

    LIVE Q&A Discussions

    • Thursday August 27th, 5pm PST (8pm EST)

  • 5

    Next Steps

    • Congrats! What's next...

    • More Resources for You

    • Survey - Coming Soon!

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Do I need to own a horse to do this challenge?

    Owning a horse is not necessary, but you will probably want to have access to a horse to do this challenge, as half of the lessons are meant to be done either in the presence or hands-on with a horse. That being said, the other half of the lessons are designed to be done at home or in a studio - no horse required - so you can still get quite a lot out of participating in this challenge even if you do not have access to a horse! *This is a Groundwork-Only Challenge.

  • What if I don't know how to dance?

    No problem! These lessons are designed for everyone, of any level of fitness or dance experience. We do recommend that you have at least some basic horse experience so that you are safe and comfortable around horses - we cannot teach you that in this challenge!

  • When does the challenge start?

    August 15, 2020, the Dancing with Horses Challenge goes LIVE!

  • What if I'm really busy that week..?

    You can complete the challenge in your own time if that works better for you - you will have access to all the lessons in the challenge for 3 months!

  • What currency is the price in?

    The Challenge price is in $US dollars.

  • How many times can I watch the lessons?

    As many times as you want! You have unlimited access to all the course materials during your 3 months of enrollment in the challenge.

  • Is there a guarantee?

    Yes, we offer a 'no questions asked' 7-day money-back guarantee. Just email us to request it.

  • Do I need a Facebook account to participate in this challenge?

    The challenge community is inside a Facebook Group - so if you want to participate in networking, sharing videos for feedback and coaching, asking questions and watching our LIVE Q&A sessions, we recommend that you have a Facebook account to do so!

  • How long are the challenge lessons?

    Each challenge video/lesson is about 10-20 minutes long. Then, it's up to you how much time you spend practicing the exercises or movement challenges each day.