EMBODY Leadership. MOVE Differently.

Step outside your comfort zone, grow your body awareness, balance & interspecies communication skills while improving your horses confidence, connection and engagement!

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

Get weekly lessons presented and curated by internationally recognized equine, dance and somatics instructors, just for you! These lessons are designed to help you embody the concepts of feel, space, weight, connection and creativity, and bring this new Awareness to your horse...

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

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, your body awareness or balance 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, wanting to try something new and 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...

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!

On that day when I was standing in the arena with my horse, wanting to dance with him and engage his curiosity, 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?

Aaaaand - how will this help my riding and horsemanship journey?

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 over a 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.

To make a long story short(ish), 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 truly 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 continue to expand my vocabulary, grow my feel, be effortlessly creative, dance with my horses, and feed my horse-loving soul.

PLUS I'll share with you how I'm using some of these techniques in my horse training program!

My horses love-Love-LOVE doing this stuff!

- Alissa

Watch Intro Video

JoAnna Mendl Shaw dancing with Excalibur

What's it like inside the DWH Challenge?

Workshop + Clinic + Personal Exploration

This challenge is a unique blend of a workshop series with the world-famous dance-educator JoAnna Mendl Shaw; a sampling of Continuum Movement led by Bonnie Simoa; some Hanna Somatics for Horse and Rider (taught by me, Alissa Mayer); and an invitation to join me in a personal exploration into movement, creativity and building more body-confidence - all while enhancing the connection and quality of communication with my horses.

I believe this is a major 'Missing Link' in the usual education and training for most equestrians... beyond riding, training and bonding, we need to embody leadership!

Meet Your Instructors

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.

B.A. EHSE-C, ASATH Program Director

Alissa Mayer

I'm a Somatic Educator for Horses + Riders, Instructor/Clinician, Writer, Problem-Solver, Overachiever, and Mama to identical twin toddlers. I've been teaching horsemanship since 1997, and I help equestrians, athletes, moms and grandmothers access their natural reflexes of self-care and self-carriage to re-train habits, ditch pain and stiffness, enhance function and develop true FEEL with horses… I also co-teach the Equine Hanna Somatics® Professional Training Program and mentor students on their path to certification. You'll most likely find me playing with the kids, dancing with the horses, or sipping wine in the garden on the family homestead in rural Oregon, USA.

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:

  • LIFETIME Access to all Challenge Lessons - in each module you get 4-5 lessons, some for embodiment of the concepts, and some to try 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 64-Page Dancing with Horses Challenge Digital Workbook.

  • Private online coaching & support in our private Facebook group during 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 lifetime access to the facebook group included.

  • Live Pop-Up Q&A Sessions in the group with Alissa Mayer & JoAnna Mendl Shaw (and guests, too!)

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

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

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

Hear from Participants


Calmer, Balanced and Powerful!

Susan Loper

I’m enjoying the course. The studio exercises have already helped me reliably access a calmer, softer power to let my horse know everything's OK and have him believe in me. I've used the Scaffolding of Awareness exercises everywhere, including in the saddle, to feel balanced and powerful. And the highlight of the challenge has been seeing how much dance has to teach riders (or at least me). I've been a dance patron for years but never thought about it like this!

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.

There has never been a training challenge like this before!

Connect with your inner light and most congruent self, and invite them out to play with your horse.

Dancing with Horses CHALLENGE Curriculum

Four Modules guide you thru 19 lessons from world-class Horsemanship, Dance & Somatics Instructors, plus community, support and coaching!

  • 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 30 days

    • DWH Workbook & BONUS Downloads

  • 3

    Module 1 - BEING - Listen and Move without ASKing

    • Introduction to the Grazing Score - Alissa Mayer & JoAnna Mendl Shaw

    • Creating a Pasture Dance with the Grazing Score - Bonnie Simoa & Alissa Mayer

    • Introduction to the Imprint Score, with Objects - JoAnna Mendl Shaw

    • Creating an Imprint Score with your Horse - How-To with JoAnna Shaw (+ "Ruby's Dance")

  • 4

    Module 2 - AWARENESS - Developing Feel & Embracing Observation

    • The Scaffold of Awareness & Support - with Bonnie Simoa

    • A Grounding & Awareness Exercise to help your Horse - Alissa Mayer

    • One Mover, One Watcher with Your Horse - with guest instructor Brittney Hietala

    • Finding and Feeling your BackSpace - Bonnie Simoa

  • 5

    Module 3 - MOVEMENT - Within and Without...

    • Introduction to Tracking in the Barn/Studio - JoAnna Mendl Shaw with Alissa Mayer

    • Tracking Exercises with Your Horse - JoAnna, Bonnie & Alissa's horse Doc A'Nalu

    • Intro to Contralateral Movement - Brain Gym with JoAnna Shaw + Hanna Somatics with Alissa Mayer

    • New Ways to Move With & Around your Horse - Demo by JoAnna + Practical Applications with Alissa & Doc

  • 6

    Module 4 - CREATIVITY - Connecting the Dots

    • IF/THEN Scores - Studio Lesson & Discussion with Alissa & JoAnna (60 mins)

    • No-ASK IF/THEN: The Horse Choreographs YOU - JoAnna Mendl Shaw dancing with Excalibur

    • IF/THEN as a Training Tool - Building Vocabulary with Alissa Mayer + her horse Doc A'Nalu

    • IF/THEN as a Collaboration between Horse & Human - Next Level Imprint Score with Alissa + Doc

    • (Coming Soon) IF...THEN to Connect the Dots - Watch Alissa's experiments with IF/THEN and her horses

  • 7

    Next Steps

    • Congrats! What's next...

    • More Resources for You

    • Before you go... Give us some feedback, please! (A Quick 10-question Survey)

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?

    January 1, 2021, the Dancing with Horses Challenge goes LIVE!

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

    Aren't we all??? You can follow our weekly schedule, or 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 life! (as long as the course is available, you're in! + I'm kinda a perfectionist, so we will be adding and improving the content over time).

  • 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 once you enroll.

  • Is there a guarantee?

    Yes, we offer a 'no questions asked' 7-day money-back guarantee. Just email us to request it - BUT, we do ask that you show us you have worked through the first module's lessons, because like most things in life, if you want the results, you have to do the work!

  • 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?

    Most of the challenge video/lessons are about 10-20 minutes long, with a few longer. Then, it's up to you how much time you spend practicing the exercises or movement challenges each day.

Join the Dancing with Horses CHALLENGE

Now, more than ever, we need to connect, communicate, and become more embodied.