Member in the Spotlight … Lesley Holyoake

Lesley Holyoake shares with us (up's and down's included) her business journey.

What a superb and very honest account Lesley has given, and what a great and moving read this is.

Lesley's answers really highlight the perseverance and resilience that many of us have no idea is there to be tapped into. 

I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I did 🙂

Describe your business

A mixture of working with horses to help them recover after injury or illness, plus coaching for people of those horses.

I also coach people to help them build the resources within themselves to handle the changes needed in their handling and training approach

Plus I teach ttouch handling skills plus reflection work; with the horses being the reflection of the people so equine assisted coaching/learning.

To top up financially as my business grows I also do some admin work plus a network marketing business (wikaniko).

It all makes sense to me but at the moment I don’t think it makes a lot of sense from the outside!

How does a consultation with you work?

Typically someone will contact me because they want to learn more about TTouch. We will discuss on the phone what the problems are they are having with their horse and I will explain the approaches we may use – but also explain it is dependent on how the horse responds.

I also explain I am a personal development coach because there is an aspect of that within the work and that a follow up coaching call is included in the price.

I will then go visit the horse – and will likely be presented with a situation that is not as described on the phone!!I work with the horse myself and teach the handler some of the work (that is the point of ttouch – they go away with homework because it is what they do every day that is making a difference – positively or negatively).

My aim is to make it as an enjoyable experience as possible; however horses are emotive and this is not healing work – it is change work so depending on where the person is on their journey will depend on how open they really are to change and how much they really want to help their horse experience something different.I keep it as light emotionally as I can and provide as much as seems relevant and helpful to the person and horse. I ask the owner lots of questions and get them to guide me as to what they like from what they are seeing, what they are likely to adopt regularly and what resonates with them. Its really important to me that they feel like they have some useful things to go away with. They get handouts on the day and I follow up with a report (an insurance requirement) which also includes extra resources.

After a week to ten days, I have a follow up conversation. Sometimes the client responds and is contacting me before the time, other times that the is the last time I speak to them. However, I send my report through and contact them a couple of times over email or text whichever has been agreed and will then leave it up to them. What I have noticed over the several years is that people go at the speed they go at. It is not uncommon for me not hear back from my clients for 9 months or so, then come back to me for another session, then repeat the process. Sometimes clients will book onto a workshop 18 months later - which is lovely as it means they have noticed a difference and want to continue with the journey. 

With regards to the TTouch workshops; clients are pretty much signed up for us and my colleague and I are hired in to deliver the work. Perfect!


Would like to do more of that!!!

Who do you work with?

  • 1-1 with horse owners
  • Work shops with Horse owners and also animal practitioners who want to develop their skills /CPD
  • Coaching and  workshops for people who want to improve their communication skills - either with horses specifically or wanting the horses to aid them
  • Wikaniko - people who are wanting to use animal friendly products in their homes that are good for them also.

What did you do before?

I was a PA to a VP and Managing Director of the Global Life and Medical Science Division at John Wiley & Sons (Scientific, Technical, Medical publishers).

I had been there 15 years and started out as a secretary in Editorial, then ended up working as a PA to the Journals Director, the Director of Copyright and Licensing and then the Publishing Director who eventually ended up as one! of the managing directors.

I was involved in many aspects including projects to streamline processes within and across departments, archiving, electronic document management implementation and training to staff and new starters... event management, audit compliance, intranet page management and other stuff!

Has been getting to grips with my personal journey and money story. I let the business trickle along whilst I got my head straight and earnt money in ways I knew how to. Cleared out hundreds and hundreds of demons and got on top of my debt.  

In the past, I have not been able to take on any learning about running a business, I want to that change that this year and make it real! Which is the main reason I joined WOBS+ Coaching and Mentoring 

What's in the pipeline for you?

March and Sept 2017 - 2 x TTouch workshops as CPD.

5 November 2016 - a one day Holistic Hound and Horse Expo where we will have a stand, have two opportunities to speak.

I am starting discussions with a TTouch practitioner in Germany who has a programme for children and there is a desire to get it brought to the UK. There are several logistics to deal with but none of them are insurmountable.. and I have a colleague who would like to be involved, a location to run it from who is already running programmes for children. The potential is great... and I would like to be able to have it as a mobile project and deliver into different yards that have children. There are several around that I think would be interested and I have had prior communication with. There is also opportunity to take it into the adult leisure riding environment too.

As a follow on from the above, I would like to develop some work that can be done as a charitable offering for people on the autistic spectrum - children and adults and their carers/families and friends who want to improve their communication skills. There is an equine assisted programme called Horse Boy that does this so that may be something for the future.

I will be co-facilitating with an NLP based Equine Assisted Coach who has trained with the same person as me to deliver EAC to corporate clients. This is not something I can lead at the moment but very very happy to take the position of co-facilitator for now to build up my experience.

And not completely related but I am also going to start volunteering at the Cat and Rabbit rescue centre in Sidlesham - to help young cats/kittens and work with the cats that are currently not rehomable. That will lead me to start my companion training as well, but it is part of the package of my work and will lead me to people who want to learn at the same time as being able to coordinate cat and rabbit workshops until such time I can run them myself.

Wikaniko - I have a stall date booked up but need to look at increasing that this year. If I can get enough money earning outside of an office environment then it is much easier to do weekend events with stalls​

What are you proud of?

🙂 Just reading the above has made me feel proud of myself for getting this far. I had no idea where I was going really, the above is nothing like I had on my original plan ... however, it does make me feel good - and if this is genuinely my work for the next year, I will be a very happy being!

What advice would you offer wannabe entrepreneurs?

Keep going. Be honest with where you are at. Be honest about what you want in your life. Deal with your demons and get help and support to do that. And keep going!

Lesley's contact information

Lesley Holyoak - Equine and Human Coach


Facebook: Lesley-Holyoake-Equine-Training-Rehabilitation-and-Facilitation


Lesley is a member of WOBS+ Coaching and Mentoring Click link to the left to find out more.

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