I have spent a lifetime with horses and have experienced the very special benefits that can be realized when horses and humans come together in a safe space of exploration and discovery!
A Unique Approach to the horse/human experience
Here at Smiling Horse, you will find a unique and even - what may seem radical - approach to horse-human interactions. The primary objective of my programs is to ensure a mutually beneficial experience for both people and the horses, here in the activity space and out in the larger world. I strive to give clients tangible tools for self-exploration, discovery and care that will go with them when they leave the barn. They also take with them a new understanding and appreciation for the true nature of the horses and what they have to offer us when we meet them ‘where they are’. I have a dual mission to serve people in my community who can benefit from the horse experience, while at the same time, promoting a new regard for the horse as a magnificently adapted, naturally intelligent, sentient being, excluding the traditional model of utility.
What’s Unique about My Programs?
The foundation of my programs is a suite of ‘affinities’ that I have explored and compiled after many years of experience, observation and study. It respects the fact that horses are masters of social consciousness and this exploration provides endless opportunity to delve into topics such as awareness, group dynamics, emotional intelligence, leadership, followership, friendship, good citizenship, physical and emotional boundaries, resource utilization, self-regulation, effective communications, congruence, and more. My approach is somewhat ‘out of the box’ and has developed from a passionate desire to go beyond the limitations of an anthropocentric interpretation of the equine world and explore the natural wisdom that we, as humans, can consider and adapt for our own requirements and benefit. These affinities, presented by the horse, in the most authentic and natural way, are directly relatable to our own way of being in the world, as individuals and members of our larger society. The best way to explore them is to meet the horses where they are - in their daily life - to interact with them from the perspective of ‘natural wisdom resources’ and have interesting discussions about how being more ‘like the horse’, breaking down preconceived ideas and barriers, developing new approaches and skills, can inform our own lives.
I have been sharing the many aspects of the horse/human affinities with individuals for several years, including adults, youth and children, in programs that I initiated, in collaboration with professionals in the health care community. I have experienced some very poignant moments. Currently, my primary activity is collaborating with health care professionals and their clients to provide a very custom, private, facilitated and enriching experience where we can delve in and explore from the perspective of client need.
I have available a few spaces at my facility in central Nova Scotia for this kind of experience and a rapport with professionals in a few areas, including mental health and child/youth care. I am always excited to talk with a health care professional who is interested to add a horse-based experience to their toolbox of modalities for client care.
My programs are well suited to one, two, perhaps three or four - individuals of any age, whether referred by a health care professional, accompanied by a caregiver, or simply couples, parents/children, siblings, friends even a grandparent and grandchild who are interested to try this enriching experience. Groups larger than three or four people will find a fantastic equine assisted learning experience at Talking Horse Equine Assisted Learning in the Annapolis Valley, of which I am a co-founder.
Interacting with horses in their environment in a mindful way can be a very enlightening experience for anyone. If you would like to talk about whether this would be beneficial for you or someone you know, please contact me!
Client feedback from experiences with me at Smiling Horse:
Client feedback in response to the question: "Did you pick up any tips or skills that may help you to feel more grounded, aware, relaxed, or anything that you can use in your everyday life?"
- "Yes, nature/animals help ground us and give us a sense of self awareness."
Client feedback in response to the question: "Did you experience something that you didn't expect?"
- "Yes, to learn as much as we did."
Client feedback in response to the question: "What did you enjoy the most?"
- "All of it!"
When given the opportunity to provide feedback on a form, general comments indicated that participants 'enjoyed the day', 'learned something', 'I am glad I did it', 'I would like to try another, different day sometime' and 'would recommend to someone else'.
Feedback from healthcare professionals from experiences at Talking Horse:
We have seen so many benefits for our clients - team building, self-esteem, confidence, leadership, relationship-building. As therapists, we also see benefits that may not be as obvious. The program at Talking Horse captures participants' interest in a unique way. Most people, even the more quiet ones, become very engaged, taking part at an enhanced level in the activities and discussions. Through the work with the horses, they learn skills that are relevant and transferable to their daily lives. We feel that the sessions are excellent value for our recreational therapy resources. We are grateful to have the funding for this and we plan to continue applying for grants to fund us for future visits. Many of our clients return and want to return again! We absolutely recommend this to other professionals and their clients and can see that there would be benefits for a wide variety of populations." - Alicia Dobranowski, CTRS, Recreation Therapist, Nova Scotia Health Authority - Central Zone
“Working with the facilitators and horses at Talking Horse has helped our patients get out of the hospital to practice skills that will help them in the real world. The equine experiential learning program is a way to facilitate opportunities for clients to learn and practice assertiveness skills, social skills, and the ability to work as a team in a supportive, non-judgmental environment. All of our patients who have experienced this program have had only good things to say, including how it built their confidence or helped them overcome anxiety. I would recommend this program to others looking for an innovative way to engage clients in their treatment and care.” - Jacqueline Connors, CTRS, Recreation Therapist, Nova Scotia Health Authority.