September 2016 Cover Story: Jen Verharen and Cadence Coaching

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by Kim Roe

Life happens. Babies are born, bones break, businesses struggle, people die. What was once easy and fun seems impossible. The desire to ride is still strong, but it now makes our heart beat too fast, our hands shake, and our horses struggle to work for us. We want the joy back, but don’t know the path to take. Consider the following two scenarios.

  1. A woman attends a clinic with a big-name clinician. She knows her horse isn’t ready for the pressure, but she’s already paid the fees and decides to go anyway. Her horse is reactive and dangerous in the new environment—bolting and bucking. The clinician yells and tells her the horse is too much for her abilities. She leaves the clinic defeated, realizing the relationship with her horse has suffered. Her confidence is gone. A monster has invaded her mind and its name is Fear.
  2. A professional horsewoman’s husband dies unexpectedly and she is derailed by grief. She struggles to fulfill her duties, and her work is clouded by depression. Most of her clients leave. She is left with self-doubt, financial burdens, and fear for her future. She considers selling her business and changing careers, but feels overwhelmed again by another kind of grief: leaving the business she loves.

Fear and doubt – they are only emotions, but emotions are real and can stop your progress if you don’t know how to manage them. Horses have strong receptors for feelings; training can slow or come to a standstill when we experience fear or our confidence is low. Someone telling us “Stop being afraid,” or “Stop doubting yourself,” doesn’t help. We need real tools and knowledgeable support to help us move beyond these negative emotions.

Jen Verharen of Cadence Coaching has built her business around helping horse people get over these kinds of obstacles. Her clients are raving about the results. She puts it like this: “What’s happening in our lives cannot be separated from what’s happening in the saddle.”

Jen rides Antano, owned by Jen and Jan Kittleson

Jen has been a respected dressage and eventing trainer for over 20 years. Like many equine professionals she is passionate about horses, training, and teaching. About eight years ago she started to burn out. She was exhausted and didn’t have enough time for herself, her own horses, or her family. She still loved her work but knew that the way she was doing it would not be sustainable for much longer.

Jen is a creative person with a highly developed sense of curiosity. “Curiosity,” she says “leads us to our heart’s desire. When you think you know, you limit your possibilities.” Her question for herself became, what brings me the most joy? The answer was helping others thrive and succeed.

Another question kept coming up for her: why are some riders stuck in a rut while others progress and succeed? Jen has long been a student of the human psyche. She has a degree in organizational psychology, is a certified mediator, and is now a certified transformational life coach as well as a health and wellness coach. In order to develop her skills, she worked for several years as a corporate business coach and trainer. But she missed working with horse people, so Cadence Coaching was born.

Relaxing after work

Jen calls herself an equestrian performance, business, and life coach. She works with athletes and business owners in the equine industry who want to take their riding or businesses to new levels of excellence. She conducts workshops for riders to help them prepare for show season, deal with fear, build confidence, or develop their businesses.

She has two popular online and over-the-phone coaching programs. Stirrup Your Biz Boot Camp is designed to help horse professionals streamline their businesses to make them more fun and profitable. Take the Reins is a program that helps riders set and achieve goals, learn mental skills for training and competing, manage emotions, and cultivate leadership qualities. She also offers customized one-on-one coaching programs.

Jen finds satisfaction in helping riders and equine professionals both in the U.S. and internationally. She is called upon by high-performance professionals from all over the world. Because she does a lot of her work over the phone, her horizons have been broadened geographically. She is able to help people make connections and “dream big” as a result.

Jen Verharen of Cadence Coaching

Jen’s priorities are to build an intersection between riders and their horses and to build a community of riders who support and inspire one another. “Who we are is manifested in our horses, and we can’t get better as riders without getting better in our lives.” The goal of Cadence Coaching is to facilitate peak performance—both in and out of the saddle. For every person there is a sweet spot. Jen Verharen is working to help each of us find ours.

Learn more about Jen and Cadence Coaching at Join the online Cadence Coaching Community at


Published September 2016 Issue

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