Soulful Practices for a Connected Vibrant Life


This fall – Sat., November 4 – we are thrilled to be hosting our first open registration nature-based retreat for adults – "Soulful Practices for a Connected Vibrant Life." Rich with natural beauty and wild inspiration, The Discovery Trail at Rocky Creek sets the perfect stage for connectedness with each other, one's self and nature. Join Kathleen McIntyre, Wendy Swanson and Brooks Haislip, for a day of mindfulness guided through practices such as yoga, meditation, breath work, journaling, and sacred nature connection. This day long sojourn with three authentic, kind, knowledgeable and powerful leaders is a truly a unique opportunity. 

Learn more about the leaders of this retreat, and how to register, below. 

Kathleen McIntyre

For the past 20 years, Kathleen McIntyre has been a dynamic, passionate, and openhearted educator, workshop facilitator, and wilderness trip leader. Her experience ranges from being a biology professor to a mindfulness educator. She has facilitated workshops and retreats around sustainable living, nature connection, and herbalism. Kathleen is a co-founder of the Davidson Green School, an innovative K-7th grade school focused on project based and experiential learning with emphasis on sustainability, engineering, and connecting with nature.

As a transformational coach, she draws from the Presence-Based Coaching model. This approach is based on leading edge neuroscience, mindfulness and presence practices, somatics (working with the body), as well as adult development and leadership theory. She loves to partner with individuals and groups to help align their outer reality with their inner knowing. Kathleen has spent extensive time in wilderness settings and continues to experience the transformative power of connecting with nature for herself as well as with those she guides.

Wendy Swanson

Wendy has been practicing yoga for over 20 years and leading groups for the past 15 years both domestically and internationally. Wendy is a licensed acupuncturist with over ten years of clinical experience. Wendy and her husband own the thriving yoga studio, Be Yoga, in Charlotte, NC. She is registered yoga instructor who is currently working on her 500 hour certification and is a healer. Her classes are rejuvenating, open hearted, fun and soul inspiring. One of her students, Andee Smith, says it best: "As a teacher, one of Wendy’s many gifts is perception. Her ability to read the energy of a room full of yoga students and then serve as a thoughtful guide through a yoga practice is remarkable. Her insightful, supportive, and just plain fun demeanor sets the tone to help students dive deeper into their own practices.”

Brooks Haislip

Brooks is a lover of life, her family and her tribe. She has been teaching yoga, meditation practice and women's spirituality for over 20 years, was a full-time massage therapist for 8 years, has practiced intuitive healing and spiritual mentoring (facilitating group workshops/retreats and working privately with clients) for over 10 years, and is a Somato Respiratory Integration (breath work) Wellness Educator. She is RYT-500 and is grateful to have been a Certified Anusara Yoga Teacher for many years. She has completed Core Vitality training with Lynda Boozer, has received her Professional Certificate from UC Berkeley's Greater Good Science Center for The Power of Awareness Mindfulness Training with Tara Brach and Jack Kornfield and has completed Mindfulness Fundamentals, Mindful Educator Essentials and Mindfulness for Difficult Emotions though Mindful Schools. She is also a Certified Guide for The Red Boot Coalition, which is a non-profit organization that serves to provide safe places for all people to practice honest sharing and compassionate listening.

Her teaching combines a unique and powerful blend of skills gained thru years of studying these different modalities and is a fusion of her knowledge and deep personal experience with each one. She has created what she calls "Inspired Mindfulness" and "Awakened Leadership" as her pathways in supporting others to "wake up, slow down and connect" (her personal anthem) to his/her most vibrant life. She brings together years of study in anatomy and refined alignment and joins it with her intimate connection to spirit, soul & intuitive guidance. She believes that every individual is an embodiment of infinite creative expression and is grateful to be an agent of change in the awakening of light and truth. She shows up with clarity of presence and expansive compassion, her laughter is highly contagious and her words are direct, loving, kind and inspiring.

Not Just a 5K

When donating to a non-profit, or participating in a fund-raising event, it is important to know where your money goes. As we continue to navigate through the next several weeks leading up to the event, we wanted to share with all of you just how these funds will be used. 

Our goal for the October 2016 - Alphabet 5K *Run*Walk*Ride* Event is to raise $5,000. We are well on our way, having already met 50% of our goal through sponsorships. By participating in, or sponsoring the Alphabet 5K event, you are helping to provide animal-assisted and nature-based therapeutic and educational opportunities for children and adults along The Discovery Trail at Rocky Creek. In addition, we will be making donations in support of other non-profit programs who are creating and providing quality service delivery in any field leveraging the horse-human connection. We plan to use 100% of the monies raised to benefit our local communities. 

In collaboration with and in support of other organizations, mental health professionals and educators, Equuvation Inc. supports a variety of programming that includes:
• Nature-based, Equine and Animal-assisted Psychotherapy as an alternative to traditional talk therapy
• Equine-Facilitated Learning [EFL]
• Therapeutic Riding for Special Needs Youth and Veterans
• Sponsorship Programs for Young Riders, propelling good stewards of our equestrian industry
• "Hands-on" Educational workshops for children and adults
• Continuing Education for our professional field
• Nature-based Healing & Wellness programs
• Sensory Trail Design and Development

Communities we currently serve:
Iredell, Mecklenburg, Catawba and Davie County School Systems / Special Education Depts.
• Iredell, Mecklenburg, Catawba and Davie County Charter and Private Schools
• Non-profits working towards positive change for local Latina and Refugee populations
• Non-profits supporting individuals living with Traumatic Brain Injury
• Non-profits supporting individuals who have special needs
• Veterans in North Carolina and South Carolina
• At-risk Youth in Iredell and Mecklenburg Counties, including children in foster care

Current 2016 Sponsors

  • Presenting Sponsor – The McIntosh Foundation / Hunter, Amber and Aspen McIntosh
  • Community Sponsor – Triple Play Farm
  • Fit-Trail Challenge Sponsor – Bob & Tracy Byrnes
  • Alphabet Sponsors

Current 2016 Award Sponsors

Thank you for everyone's ongoing support! Please contact us with questions or comments.

Our Narnia – where the five senses and horse sense, collide.

I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.” – John Burroughs
Photo by Jessie Wiley

Photo by Jessie Wiley

In April 2013, a group of sixteen individuals – therapeutic riding instructors, music therapists, parents, teachers, medical professionals and equestrians – came together in the middle of Rocky Creek Ranch, a 524-acre equestrian property in Statesville, NC. It was here – amidst a property rich in history and wild in nature – that The Discovery Trail at Rocky Creek was born, and an equine-accessible, multi-dimensional outdoor sensory experience [intended for therapeutic and educational use], would come to be.

A year later, and after a lot of planning, the very first posts went in the ground, launching a mission to create an environment for all ages and abilities to: experience the outdoors in a safe and delightful way; reach for and achieve therapeutic, educational and personal goals; and have an opportunity to learn from, and develop a relationship with horses {and other animals, including wildlife}.

For those in the therapeutic riding or equine-assisted therapy fields, the idea of a “sensory trail” is not a new one. By definition, a sensory trail is a sequential outdoor experience that incorporates cognitive, visual, auditory, tactile and olfactory sensory integration, promotes fine and gross motor skills, visual tracking, hand-eye coordination, and motor planning. Often, sensory trails incorporate the letters of the alphabet, A through Z, to mark the stops along the way. Sensory trails are commonly seen at Therapeutic Riding Center facilities, allowing children and adults the opportunity to experience cognitive development and stimulation while on the back of a horse. And while The Discovery Trail is home to a herd of wonderful therapeutic equines, the creators of the project felt that a sensory trail experience can be useful to more than just riding clients, incorporating mental health development and treatment plans, adult respite and learning, youth education, family fitness and a true love for nature.

Featuring twenty-six sensory stations (A-Z), a family-friendly Fit-Trail, and a "hands-on" Equine Lifecycle Experience, the Discovery Trail aims to set an example as a best-in-class facility for experiential therapy and learning; offering therapists, educators, parents, groups and equestrians an opportunity to expand the experience of their clients, children and themselves. Each of the sensory stations, inspired by a letter of the alphabet, incorporate experiential therapy and learning; sensory integration and natural play. Guests can explore the trail and stations on their own, or they can request guidance and curriculum. There are also private, safe spaces for therapists and their clients to trade in traditional talk therapy for nature’s office; incorporating eco-based or equine-facilitated activities to positively impact one's personal growth and development. While still under construction through 2016, the Discovery Trail is growing daily, and allows others the opportunity to field-test the stations, programs and therapeutic spaces.

In addition to accessing the stations on horseback or on foot, the Discovery Trail allows participants to become immersed in nature, to practice compassion and mindfulness, and to gain a greater understanding of how we should care for animals and each other. Located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and boasting a historical lineage, diverse wildlife and miles of trails, the peacefulness of the space provides all who visit a chance to truly benefit from the wonder of our wild and natural environment, and learn first-hand from our equine partners.

As kids, we learn about our “classic” five senses: hearing, sight, touch, smell, and taste. And even though they become the core of our sensory environment, The Discovery Trail believes there are so many more than that – one's sense of humor, balance, creativity, wonder... and of course, horse sense.

Wikipedia describes Narnia as: “...a fantasy world… where some animals can talk, mythical beasts abound, and magic is common....rolling hills rising into low mountains... and predominantly forested except for marshlands in the north…. where humans, usually children, enter from 'our world'...”

Those who drive by the farm, refer to it as “the mile-long fence” – literally, one mile of three-board horse fencing, with no sign of a building, animal or human from the road. But to those of us who enter the gates, it feels more like our own little Narnia. {There may even be a lion, somewhere...}

• • • • •
{Originally published in The Carolinas Equestrian Magazine, April/May 2016 Issue}

The Discovery Trail at Rocky Creek is a project of Equuvation Inc., a 501c3 non-profit organization. If you would like to volunteer, learn more about the programs offered, or utilize the space for your own clients, please visit: or