I met with Jo and discussed Horsethinking as she was setting up the centre.
She invited myself and a colleague to a taster session. I was intrigued!
I have been on anti-depressant medication for more than 22 years (on and off) and this my longest period of taking them was 9 years. Through being involved with other mental health work and research, I understood my own triggers and could never avoid them, but could most times cope and hide the results.
The day of the visit the first thing I noticed was the beautiful scenery and a wave of calm flooded over me. I had not had this feeling for some years due to work stress etc.
I still did not fully understand how this programme would work and I did have a slight fear of horses. Jo and her colleague gave us an introduction and overview of what would happen including the safety information.
When we began we were told to observe the horses for 10 minutes. I was unsure of what I was really supposed to be thinking and kept wandering off in my own thoughts. When they said the 10 minutes were up I was asked how I felt and what had I noticed.
My mind was suddenly flooded with the fact that I had observed a lot. I had never noticed how the horses move from foot to foot while standing as we do, and I was drawn to the horse at the back who seemed less confident in being part of the group. Why I didn’t know, and then when other questions were asked I realised I related to feeling like this a lot of the time, especially in groups.
At this point I also felt emotional as I had an overwhelming sense of calm and for the first time I could remember for years…..no stress. I felt it had been drained away and that feeling alone felt amazing.
When we went into the arena we stood for a few minutes and Clara the horse I had been drawn to came up to me. I felt so uplifted as she had chosen to come to me and had obviously sensed something in me, as I had with her.
She then let me stroke her and then interaction with another horse disturbed this moment.
Something, which I still can’t fully describe happened to me in that moment; that unlocked and showed me behaviour with family and friends that I had always taken personally and let affect me; while all the time I couldn’t control or change it; and needed to let it go.
I was quite emotional as this was a huge breakthrough for me to experience and it immediately changed my confidence of who I am and how I can walk away from situations instead of feeling I have to fix things constantly. It is very personal and hard to describe, but now I feel that I can stand back that helps me cope better with situations.
Every now and then now I ring to go and visit Jo when I feel a bit low, as the company and the surroundings help my wellbeing. I also know that I have a safe place to go if I can no longer cope with issues that can affect me such as reaching my 50th birthday and being made redundant 2 days afterwards. I am now self employed and have just completed my first paid work.