Deborah Bowerman-Davies' passion for the horse began as a child living in the UK. Her equine journey began by volunteering at a Therapeutic Riding Academy, where she quickly earned an award for the most accomplished horsewoman and rider at the young age of 13!
Already catch-riding at this early age, competing in pony club events, and spending hours assisting with lessons, Debbie knew that horses were her passion and mission in life. She knew that not only would she dedicate her life to truly understanding them inside out, but she would be a voice and an advocate for the horse.
Debbie spent her Junior Rider years competing successfully in the 3-Day Event arena and representing her country. After completing her A levels, she went on to become a "select" working student for Marie Stokes FBHS, where she competed in Dressage, Show Jumping, Side Saddle, and English Showmanship, as part of her British Horse Society studies.
Upon graduation from her British Horse Society training, Debbie was offered a position in Belgium as a trainer and manager for a junior show jumping rider. This coveted position gave her the opportunity to work with many top International European competitors, including Francois Mathy and Reiner Klimke. This position also included traveling throughout Europe competing in the Show Jumping and Dressage arena.
Debbie later traveled to the United States to accept a position offered by Norman Dello Joio, an Olympic Show Jumping rider. Traveling the country on the A circuit gave Debbie the opportunity to expand her show jumping ability and to learn from some of the top show jumper riders, including George Morris, Micheal Matz, Joe Fargo, Nelson Pessoa and of course, Norman Dello Joio.
Debbie's International experience both as a student, rider, and competitor led her to the awareness of what was correct for the horse and what was missing in the approach and understanding of the horse's emotional and physical well being. "There was a lot of 'cram and jam' with horses. They were clearly not in true relaxation and harmony, which was ironic to me, as the first paragraph in almost every discipline's rule book, states just that."
In the early 1990's, Debbie retired from the show jumping circuit and returned to her path of passion in the dressage and eventing world. Working and studying with alternative veterinarians, she opened her own facility and explored the realms of alternative training modalities to support the health and well being of her beloved equine mounts. She began spending time observing horses in their natural environment for several weeks at a time. Debbie would quest with some of the wild herds in Montana and Wyoming, observing emotional and herd patterns, as well as natural movement patterns. "A piaffe in the wild looks a lot different than a trained piaffe in the arena, as does a simple trot or jump. There are many intricate movements that are alive and flowing in the horses natural gait.” Debbie was exposed to these subtleties during her time observing wild horses.
Training took on a different tone for Debbie after her herd observation as she began exploring the application of a horse's natural movement both on the ground and under saddle. She found a new emotional and psychological place to access movement willingly in the horse, which supported the upper level schooling that she was seeking, but was unsuccessful in achieving using conventional methods. Debbie felt her dressage and eventing trainers were good upper level and Olympic competitors, yet there was an element of softness lacking in her horse's movements. The fluidity was not there and when a trainer would say "yes, that is good," all she felt was tension and stress in her horse's body. Applying the intricacies of the patterns learned from the wild horses, Debbie found non-habitual ways to engage movement, both in hand and under saddle. She quickly discovered the gentle fluidity and relaxation in her horse's performance and a softening in their entire body, eliminating the tension patterns that were previously present. Riding was no longer riding, it was a dance. The partnership between Debbie and her horses, and those that came in for training, was evidence of a bond that can be created through a deeper understanding of the horse from the inside out.
With her horses as her teachers, it was not long before she outgrew her 20-stall training facility, as people flocked to understand the connection that put the pieces of the puzzle together. Moving to a 60-stall training facility, Debbie continued to teach the subtleties of movements to her dedicated students. She traveled with them to competition and competed her three horses in dressage and eventing. She judged dressage at the local level and studied for her 'r' dressage judge's license, as well as orchestrating quadrille's and musical team rides for both able-bodied and physically challenged riders.
During this time Debbie began working with Peggy Cummings, owner and founder of Connected Riding. She had been searching for a trainer who appreciated the concept of freedom of movement and was able to relay it in their teaching. Peggy's knowledge of the human and equine body, plus her exceptional way of translating concepts to a rider, helped her understand how to change her body and find the posture that would assist her horses further. The awareness of neutral pelvis was a life changing moment for her and her horse. Peggy's ability to teach what she could ride and assist her in the competition ring was the missing link for her. Debbie continues to work with Peggy Cummings, who she proudly refers to as her mentor and coach. Debbie is a Certified Senior Connected Riding Instructor and clinician for Peggy and Connected Riding.
In 2000, Debbie and her then husband moved to Lexington, Kentucky. There Debbie was invited to create an alternative training and healing facility based partially on the model she had created in Pennsylvania. Beginning with alternative training and teaching programs, the facility led by Debbie and the team, expanded into using horses to assist others with literary and academic challenges. This work also included using rescue horses and doubled as a research opportunity for Debbie to expound upon different healing modalities. Riding eight horses a day and on her way to international competition again, Debbie's focus shifted to the power of horses healing humans. Taking a hiatus from the competition world, she began supporting children and women in addiction, using horses for healing and spiritual growth. It was during this time that her current business, Equine Self Expression, was born and her Equine Growth, Learning and Healing program was launched. Horses are a mirror and reflection of one's soul. In an instant, old patterns can be surfaced and new opportunities presented through the gentle expression and non-judgmental approach of the horse.
From 2005 - 2010, Debbie dedicated herself to her own personal riding, training and research, spending more time in the wild studying the mind and body of the horse. She dedicated many hours documenting herd patterns to support her work, both in mastering the physical components of movement patterns as well as her research for the Growth, Learning and Healing program. To support the emotional patterning, Debbie continued to study anatomy and the physiology of the horse. She applied this learning to her restorative balancing integration work, training, case studies and thesis for her graduation from Quantum Energetics school in 2008. While presenting her lecture series on The Equine Musculature and Performance, Debbie was accepted into Equine Osteopathic school, which she completed in the fall of 2012.
Debbie continues to grow in her education and has become certified in various forms of restorative balancing integration work. She continues her studying of alternative modalities, which gives her an understanding of what she had been feeling hands on with her horses all along.