Episode #16: Jen Maneely, How a Moment of Vulnerability Changed Everything

I could have easily titled this episode as how a simple trail ride turned into a moment of transformation.”  

For this episode, daughter Jen joined me to share a profound experience we had this week working with my riding instructor Lynn Brown at Transitions. It could have just as easily turned ugly – and that’s what makes it worth talking about.  

Real change is messy. It’s scary, it’s emotional and it doesn’t come from knowledge. It comes from going into the arena feeling uncomfortable and knowing you might failIt comes from moving forward step by step in spite of the fear of failure.  

That’s exactly what Jen did when things didn’t go as expected when we went for a trail ride that turned into so much more. 

She continued to have layers and layers of learning unfold, even several days later. When Jen told me she was still getting aha’s, I asked her if she would be willing to share the experience and she agreed.  

Jen was incredibly open and transparent in this conversation. She shares her deep doubts and paints of picture of what could have happened. I’m so grateful that she was willing to share her experience with all of us, because we are all facing fears every day.  

Jen Maneely is the founder and president of Maneely Consulting and the author of Dear Parents, Strategies to Help Your Loved One Through Addiction. She works with the families to help them develop strategies and coach them on setting effective, supportive, and loving boundaries so that their loved ones can get the help they need, and the families don't go down with them. Her work is inspired by her own journey through addiction. 

Key Topics

  • Inviting you into our family discussion. It all started with a series of vulnerable moments
  • How does a normal trail ride turn into something else entirely?
  • Jen normally goes into lessons with no expectations primarily due to knowing to not go in with any expectations, but on this day, she had expectations.
  • Lynn Brown, the horse instructor at Transitions, isn’t your typical horse trainer. She is a natural horsemanship trainer which is more in depth of understanding horses.
  • Horses have four main needs that trumps everything else: Safety, Comfort , Food, and Play
  • Jen has always felt connected to animals in general, including horses, but also feels intimidated by horses because they are so big. If a 1200 pound animal doesn’t want to move, they are not going to move.
  • Jen’s 10 year old brain told her from a lesson she learned young that if you walk behind a horse, they will kick you and you will die. No, that’s not entirely accurate, but the 10 year old brain grows up believing it.
  • The day started well in terms of catching the horse.
  • The challenges began while entering the barn with other guest horses in which the dominance games began amongst the horses that is difficult to understand for a novice like Jen.
  • The fear for Jen continued to increase as the horse continued to move and dance around to see the other horse working with the only mental tools she had for the situation, which was, stay out of the horses way, groom the horse as fast as you can so you can get the hell out of there, and try not to die.
  • As the fear continues to increase, Jen’s ability to hide emotions come into play, while she seemed cool and calm on the outside, a very terrified little girl was screaming on the inside.
  • Jen’s threshold was reached and Jen took off out the barn and ran for her life, but no one could really see how terrified she really was.
  • There was a lot of “Trying” Jen was doing. And a lot of “Pretending” like everything was ok during the grooming time.
  • Jen was reverting back to coping through disconnecting and disassociating which exactly what you don’t want to do.
  • The automatic response to disconnecting was to pull the phone out and Lynn Brown got onto Jen about being on the phone, which in that moment triggered Jen who was already in a insecure place.
  • Brown was continuing to coach Jen through how to get the horse to calm down but Jen could accept no more in that moment because the 10 year old triggered self came to the surface and got pissed off and through a temper tantrum that forced her to leave the barn in that moment before really bad words came out of her mouth.
  • Jen knew something deeper was going on, and spent a few minutes calming down and working through the triggering buttons to get some clarity.
  • From this point, there was a question, what was Jen going to do? There was a fork in the road of scrapping the day or pushing and getting vulnerable and being honest with herself.
  • At the point of walking back in the barn still emotional, Jen thought she was going to go sit in the car and just wait for the day to be over.
  • But then something unexpected happened, having been studying Brene Brown's work and reading her book “Daring Greatly” which is about vulnerability, Jen opted to get vulnerable and really share what was happening.
  • As Jen was continuing to get vulnerable and congruent in her emotions, the horse started relaxing.
  • Continuing to be vulnerable, Jen was able to push through her threshold and get on the horse, but the most important part is that she stayed with the vulnerability and increased her capacity to handle pressure. 

Additional Links:

Jennifer Maneely's Website

Jennifer Maneely's Book

Lynn Brown's Website: Transitions

Brene Brown: Daring Greatly

 Contact Info for Jen:

Jennifer Maneely's Website



Cell Phone: Call or Text 828-301-2028