EQUINE-ASSISTED THERAPY - EQUINE MINDFULNESS
These sessions allow you to be mindful of your wholeness as an individual by sharing meditative time with your equine therapist. Ponies and horses will reflect your state of mind – any good rider knows that trying to train a horse when you are angry, upset or distracted is doomed to failure until you start seeing yourself as your horse sees you. So you have to step back from your negative emotions and concentrate on what you and your horse are actually communicating to each other – which may be very different from what you believe or intend.
You will be allocated a horse or pony to work with and in future sessions you may wish to continue to work with that one or you may like to try working with a different one. Like people, they’re all different! As you gain confidence and experience you might like to practise your new communication, calming and bonding skills with some of our rescues, who have not always had the best experience with humans.
The two Gs - grooming and ground-work – form the basis of the sessions. Both have degrees of intensity ranging from basic and relaxed right up to a (completely achievable) challenge for you and your horse. We will listen to what both you and the horse say about your progress as we continue to plan your activities.
Horses live in the present. Some may have had traumatic experiences in the past but our therapy horses are mainly home bred or whose histories we know, and have been carefully and kindly handled all their lives.
I have been intrigued by horses for as long as I remember. The first book I ever read by myself – I was 5 years old – was Black Beauty by Anna Sewell and I still remember being fascinated by her views, for example the way a horse could be desensitised to trains (something we actually practise here!) and her saying “A bad-tempered man will never make a good-tempered horse”. She made me realise how important it was to LISTEN to what the horse is saying and I grew up with this as the basis for handling, riding, training and competing.
And many wise things have been written by trainers and other horse people:
Winston Churchill said: There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.
and: There is no secret so close as that between a rider and his horse.
R.S. Surtees: I believe that horses bring out the best in us. They judge us not by how we look, what we're wearing or how powerful or rich we are, they judge us in terms of sensitivity, consistency, and patience. They demand standards of behaviour and levels of kindness that we, as humans, then strive to maintain.
Clare Balding: When you find that the horse is compelled and interested in you, something in you changes. That can be healing or move you deeply.
Buck Brannaman: No philosophers so thoroughly comprehend us as dogs and horses.
Herman Melville: Equestrian art is the perfect understanding and harmony between horse and rider.
Nuno Oliveira: Let all your actions always be guided by love and responsibility towards your horse.
Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling: The horse is always free to express itself! And if something goes wrong, it is always because the human does not communicate clearly enough.
Reiner Klimke : My horses are my friends, not my slaves.
Tom Dorrance : When I hear somebody talk about a horse or cow being stupid, I figure it’s a sure sign that the animal has outfoxed them.
"Horses lend us the wings we lack." —Anonymous
Mark Rashid : Horsemanship is the art of mastering our own movements, thoughts, emotions and behaviour. Not the horses’.
and: If you are only a student of technique, then the options become very limited. On the other hand, when you are a student of the horse, the options are unlimited.
Alois Podhajsky, Director of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna from the 1940s to 60s called his book “My Horses, My Teachers”.
Meet some of our therapists
Cedrick is a purebred Connemara gelding, just over-height at 14.3, and is a true gentleman.
Dana is a purebred Connemara mare, imported from New Zealand, about 13.1 hands.
Pepper is a purebred Connemara mare currently being schooled in dressage. She loves time out from work for a bit of a pamper.
Milly is a Shetland mare who is fat and lazy but nice to deal with and talk to.
Daisy is a Shetland mare who at a diminutive 9.2 hands has a very high opinion of herself. But she is also a bombproof driving pony and her intelligence, sense of humour and willingness to communicate with her humans makes her a fun pony to be with.
Squirrel, Mercury and Hilary: these three young Shetlands were orphaned when their mothers died from snakebite. Like most orphan foals they are quite cheeky but we have kept them with an older mare to remind them they are still ponies and need to fit in with the herd structure.
Annie (Anne of Britanny) and Kabloom are retired racehorses with many race wins between them and Holly (Outbursts) never won anything in her life. But they are now happy to be with people and teach them the serenity which, in spite of their size, speed and strength, they hold within themselves.
Therapists in training
Mirri and Zany (Valkyrie Magic Mirror and Silver Mountain Gazania) – Shetland fillies
Smokey Bear – Connemara x Shetland gelding
Pimms (Passport to Pimlico) – just to be different! – an Australian Riding Pony gelding
Dolly (Blandings Arglwyddes Dolau) – Welsh Cob section C filly – already showing a talent for liberty work
Serena – Welsh Mountain Pony mare
Apollo – Dartmoor x WM gelding
Individual one hour session - $100
5% discount for 5 sessions booked and paid in advance = $475 (may be taken over one year*)
10% discount for 10 sessions booked and paid in advance --$900 (may be taken over 2 years*)
*although sessions are generally sequential there is no need to commit to coming every
week or fortnight, as is recommended for riding.