Why partner with horses and nature in therapy? Horses have evolved for over 50 million years. Throughout their evolution they have relied on their sophisticated and embodied instincts to live in socially cohesive, bonded herds. They survived for millennia through their ability to sense threat and subtle changes of information in their environment, within each other and the larger animal kingdom - protecting themselves and their herds across a myriad of varied territories. In terms of evolution, horses have been extremely successful. Interestingly, they have a quicker flight response than that of a mouse, yet they are predisposed to living peacefully, stabilising quickly after any life threatening moments, returning to graze in quiet, cooperative community. They are hard wired to survive and thrive through strong, life-long relationships (attachment) to their herd. Observing how our herd lives offers us a window into their world of non-verbal, intuitive reasoning, relationships (self, herd and inter-species) and how they process risk and novel events and maintain their wellbeing (regulate). Their curiosity to seek connection with humans (inter-species relationship) helps us reflect, focus on and draw out our own inner process to find solutions to the intra and inter personal difficulties we may face at times, particularly as a result of traumatic experiences. Being in natural spaces offers respite to the nervous system by exposing the mind and body to subconscious, implicit signals of 'regulation' from the environment. Be it the repetitive, soothing, fractal shapes seen in the grasses, flora and fauna, the sound of bird song, streams and the wind in the trees or the feel of the elements on your skin. Over time (or sometimes immediately) this can be interpreted or experienced, at a sub-cortical level, as 'safety'. Beyond words, we seek and benefit from reconnection with self, other and environment.
No previous experience of horses is required and all interactions with horses are ground based. No riding is undertaken. Time with the horses can happen through protected contact (across a boundary or fence-line) or within shared space with the herd through advanced inter-relational experiences, exploring self, other, connection and relationship.
Holistic and natural herd care I am passionate about working with colleagues, independent sites and other practitioners to ensure the holistic and species appropriate care of the herds I work with and horses in general. The horses are in service to our clients and we in turn, are in service to our herds. I currently work across 2 sites and am involved with others. Before they are anything to us horses are, first and foremost, herd-living, grazing mammals. It is not an inevitability that they will ever engage in the EFPT work if they come to live on the sites I work from, some will simply serve the role of being an important part of the herd, for the herd's sake. Although restricted by domestication we seek to offer them as enriched a living environment as possible. Living in a mixed herd of mares and geldings they live out all year round 24/7, with access to shelter as they choose.
During client sessions the herd are at liberty to engage or not and have 20 acres within which to express their preference for proximity. Individual sentient beings with differing needs and behaviours, some choosing to follow their curiosity and share territory with clients, others hang back and offer different perspectives.
The herds are barefoot and I use positively reinforced Relational Horsemanship methods to support their health and well-being when we need to undertake routine care-giving such as hoof trimming or first-aid.
I collaborate with a wonderful and eclectic team of horse professionals, from coaches who work on every level to promote physical, emotional and energetic balance. Qualified Equine Dental Technician Bee May, Lingfield and Prior's Farm Equine Vets, a Homeopathic and Holistic Vet, plus energy and body work professionals to support the nuanced emotional and energetic needs of our special equine teams. The herds are fed organic and pesticide free, low sugar natural feeds and hay and are free to move at all times. The herds all benefit from using Track Systems and hybrid Equicentral land management to encourage even more movement and support foraging and innate social behaviours. I work symbiotically with the land to nurture bio-diversity.
I believe that your EFPT experience is enhanced by the way I serve the herds' innate needs for community, relationship and individual agency to move, graze and socialise at will, free from coercion and punitive training methods. Enabling their true energetic and holistic health removes many of the compromises of traditional horse care and management and allows them to be with you fully, in whole health - modeling an integrated and authentic 'self'.
I reinvest money earned through providing my services, not just into expanding my programmes and creating affordable, accessible experiences for my clients, but also into the development of collaborative ventures with other like-minded organisations, for example, The Dare To Live Trust of which I am a Programme Co-Director.
I have a specific interest in discovering new ways in which we can support our herds.... such as inviting other practitioners, holistic specialists and conservation/land management professionals to enhance the care and stewardship of their environment. I am learning and adapting every day, hoping to never miss an opportunity to enrich the lives and health of our incredible horses and the environments within which they live.