Thorough Pedigree: Jane Nicolais studied under New York Times bestselling author and life coach Dr. Martha Beck, and she spent three additional years training to become a Certified Equus Coach and Equus Master Facilitator. SoHo Story

Health & wellness

A Stable Influence in Preston Hollow

A Dallas life coach gives new purpose to a plot of land and to animals that might have otherwise been put out to pasture.

Jane Nicolais is a life coach who’s as serious about horses as she is about helping people. In July 2016, the petite, pixie-cut horsewoman and mother of two purchased a prime 2.1-acre tract of land on Walnut Hill Lane in Preston Hollow and began developing the property later that fall. But her construction project had nothing in common with her neighbors’ colossal homes with maid quarters and cabanas. Instead, she repurposed the grounds, which came with a modest-size ranch home, into a horse farm intended to function as a facility for equine coaching. The coveted site, which she named Serendipity Farm, is just blocks away from her residence and is now home to four rescue horses, ranch dog Daisy, and a 5-year-old donkey named Ed that she adopted from the Thomas Foundation Second Chance Horse Rescue in Pilot Point.

Watch and Learn: During the first session, a few minutes are spent observing the animals before goals for the session are discussed. Nicolais demonstrates in the 54-foot round pen, offering safety tips and showing clients ways to interact with the horse. After the client spends some one-on-one time with the animal, the session ends with a discussion based on what Nicolais observes in relation to the client’s set goal.

Her clients are individuals (teens to adults), couples, and corporate groups looking to team build. Different from the equine therapy you may be familiar with, Nicolais’ version focuses on working with able-bodied clients who are looking to improve aspects of their lives. “My clients may suffer from severe stress, depression, or PTSD,” she says. With her corporate clients, she uses the horses as a means of revealing co-workers’ different communication styles, which results in better working relationships.

Right Tack: Nicolais visited a number of farms during her training, so she had a good idea of what she wanted. Her friend, local architect Mark Domiteaux, helped with the final design. ; Legroom: The stables include individual horse stalls, each with its own run; a 54-foot round pen with a viewing area; a tack room; and three sizable open areas for roaming.

Also unlike traditional therapeutic riding barns, the work is done out of the saddle. Nicolais may have a client guide a horse through an obstacle course. The animal’s response acts as a mirror: how the horse reacts is a direct reflection of what the client is manifesting. For instance, a horse can sense anxiety and thus pull away. “I can recognize patterns with the way a patient communicates and works with a horse,” she says.

Legroom: The stables include individual horse stalls, each with its own run; a 54-foot round pen with a viewing area; a tack room; and three sizable open areas for roaming.

Although the horses have no special training or breeding, they do have an innate ability to read people and their emotions. Observing the behavior between horse and handler allows Nicolais to suggest exercises and techniques to improve interactions of the human variety.

“Their senses are supercharged,” Nicolais says. “They can sense your heart rate.”


$300 for two hours; $550 for a package of four one-hour sessions. For more information, visit janenicolais.com.

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