Medicine Wheel Retreat with Horses, Costa Rica

Rites of Passage and Eponicity in Costa Rica are collaborating to create a ground-breaking and unique experience that combines the ancient teachings of the Medicine Wheel and the gentle, reflective nature of horses for an embodied journey towards wholeness. The Medicine Wheel provides a framework for understanding ourselves within the cycles of life. Equine Therapy reflects to us the quality of our presence and helps us practice embodying qualities like confidence, trust, patience and humility. Together over the course of 8 days we will take a deep, profound, embodied, joyful and enlightening journey towards greater authenticity and self-awareness.

No prior experience with horses is necessary.

About Eponicity

Eponicity offers equine facilitated learning workshops where interaction between horses and people are designed to create experiential learning and development. The way horses sense, think and behave can help humans better understand and see themselves. Activities are uniquely designed, facilitated and de-briefed to deliver profound and powerful experiences. Having an embodied experience is a powerful way to bypass intellectual or behavioral blockages and create sustainable change.

About Rites of Passage

Rites of Passage offers Vision Quests and Medicine Wheel based workshops. The Vision Quest is an ancient ceremony where people go alone into the wilderness to look within and engage on a sacred journey: completion of an old life, movement through the threshold of the unknown, and return to the world reborn. From the cycle of the seasons to the roles of different animals in ecosystems, from the wildness of children to the responsibilities of adulthood; the medicine wheel teaches us to understand the importance of each thing within a larger whole. It is used to provide a framework not only for what participants experience during the 3 days of their solo, but also for all of our experiences within the cycles of life itself.

One of the gifts of working with the medicine wheel is to reincorporate our human identities into the larger whole of nature. While modern life seems to chant that we are separate, the medicine wheel whispers to us of our connectedness and interdependence. The gift of this is a restored sense of connection with all of life and the healing of our own wholeness within that.

The medicine wheel teaches us to know ourselves deeply and to understand and claim our place in it all.

About Equine Therapy

Equine therapy isn’t new but has recently garnered greater attention for it’s efficacy in embodied healing. It was featured on Oprah and is now included in several university psychology and psychotherapy curriculums. So far the known benefits are:

  • Confidence
  • Overcoming Fears
  • Self-Efficacy
  • Self-Concept
  • Communication Skills
  • Trust
  • Perspective
  • Decreased Isolation
  • Self-Acceptance (identifying and coping with feelings)
  • Impulse Control
  • Social Skills
  • Setting Boundaries
  • Recognizing Boundaries
  • Spiritual Connection

The Medicine Wheel and Horses

Our journey to the Southern region of the Medicine Wheel takes us to our childhood where we learned to play, see ourselves as individuals, become in touch with our human form/body. A well balanced horse knows how to play and evokes our playful and spontaneous childhood desires, helping individuals with childhood wounds to heal and finally feel safe playing.

Moving from the South, looking to the West we enter adolescence, we begin to develop our inner resources and find our uniqueness and sense of self. In the West we learn to feel our emotions and to release grief and loss. Horses help us uncover blocks within ourselves that hold us in the West, in our shadow and the dark places

Emerging from the resources we discover in our West, comes our reasoning, our work ethic, our intellect and adulthood. A place where our ego may suppress our intuitive processes. Our North governs and keeps resources in balance. With the North and the horse we will explore how to balance our logic with our intuition.

Exploration of the Eastern shield of the Medicine Wheel takes us to our spiritual doorway of birth and death. It is our union with the divine. It is Spring and Sunrise. The horse will show us the East by opening and awakening our intuitive senses, leading us into our spiritual connection to the energetic world around us.


Michael Bodkin, M.S., MFT, is a psychotherapist and wilderness guide who has been the Executive Director of Rites of Passage for over 25 years. His passion is leading people to the mirror of nature to discover the gifts of their soul. He holds expert knowledge of the Medicine Wheel bringing this ancient spiritual practice to modern day life. He directs the guide training programs for Rites of Passage and has led Vision Quests and trainings in places as diverse as South Korea and Australia.

Dashielle Vawter is a Vision Quest guide, coach, singer, minister, facilitator, and mountain guide. Eight years ago after a spiritual awakening she left the nonprofit career path she had been on and began a journey of self-discovery and exploration aimed at returning her to her heart and her own deepest passions. While the road has been winding and wild, her own personal growth work eventually led to the emergence of her coaching practice and the uncovering of music as a deep and abiding love. While working as a mountain guide 5 years ago, she discovered the Vision Quest ceremony through mutual friends and her first experiences questing were key in her own process of transformation and healing. After training and apprenticing with Mike Bodkin she now helps facilitate this process as a guide. Singing and songwriting are her deepest passions, along with supporting other people in claiming their own unique and beautiful paths.

Deborah Draves Legg left her life in the USA and a 25 year career as a registered nurse in 2006 and created Leaves and Lizards Arenal Volcano Cabin Retreat in Costa Rica with her husband, artist, Steve Legg. Her years working as charge nurse and transport nurse in Neonatal ICU, Pediatric ICU, Adult Hospice, Director and founder of a pediatric home care program prepared her for the challenge of creating this healing retreat in Central America. Horses found their way into Deborah’s life serendipitously after the move to Costa Rica. Little by little as the herd grew to 20 plus horses so did the equine therapy programs.

Sally Nilsson is an expert facilitator, certified executive coach, experienced mentor and instructor in Eponaquest horse-led leadership and personal development activities. Sally spent 15 years as a corporate attorney in London and Hong Kong, starting her career in a leading global law firm and culminating as General Counsel of a multi-billion European real-estate investment firm. She stepped off the deal junky path in 2015 to follow her passion and focus her full attention on supporting others to find and access the life they truly want – and to believe that, like her, they can create it.

Additional Information

Activities are dynamic and will be tailored for you personally to support your individual learning process. All exercises are expertly facilitated and de-briefed to maximize your learning potential. In this retreat we’ll be using the medicine wheel to both frame and debrief the activities. An example activity is learning to build a relationship with your horse on the ground so that he follows you freely without any lead rope or bridle.

There are 25 horses, who live together as a herd on 26 acres. Eponicity grows most of their food, cutting fresh grass for them daily. We ride in bit-less “pain-free” bridles – it is very important to us to have happy, healthy horses.

At Eponicity, we support the horse/human interaction with relationship-based horsemanship. When we listen to what our horses have to say, our relationship potential with them is infinite.

The retreat is hosted by Leaves and Lizards, a retreat center near the Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica. Surrounded by glorious nature, away from the stresses of daily life, guests are nourished with farm-to-table fresh food, natural water, comfortable accommodations, massage and yoga. This retreat includes 5 hours of massage, in addition to the accommodation, food, guidance and yoga classes that are provided!

What is keeping you from being your best self?

Take a journey around the Medicine Wheel to feel, heal, and restore your true and whole Self.


June 8th-14th, 2016:  Arrival at Leaves and Lizards on or before June 8th at 11am. Departure on June 15 in the morning (departing flights should leave after 1pm).

$2500 includes, accommodation, food, guides and activities, 5 hours of massage, and yoga classes

Not included: Alcohol, tips, airfare, and airport transfers.


“It was a magical experience for everyone in our group on many levels. The degree of deep healing and consciousness expanding work was incredible. There was not one person who did not grow in a hugely transformational way and from what I could tell since that trip many lives have changed for the better. Both Debbie and Shelley and of course the horses were superb facilitators. Debbie and Shelley have a deep and supportive understanding of how to help each one of us face and release the persistent blocks in our respective lives. The Eponicity horses are extraordinary beings, extremely perceptive, sentient and willing to be of service to their “human” partners.”

“All of us felt supported, physically,emotionally and mentally and certainly spiritually. To be directly in contact with nature and horses, in such a beautiful environment with gorgeous accommodation and wonderful food, it just doesn’t get any better.”

“The horses brought out feelings I had not expected to surface and I worked through blocks and identified barriers I didn’t even know were there. Working with the horses in the group dynamic was also a fascinating mirror to how I show up in other life situations.”

“Horses really do give you what you need, rather than what you think you want. This is their most powerful lesson as so often I focus on what I think I want and probably ignore what I actually need. So I end up just surviving, rather than thriving. That was a big lesson for me.”