Clinical Services recently offered PLHIV a new and innovative experience interacting with horses and nature.
Mel from Horse Horizons and her colleague Vicky facilitated the workshop, offering their expert guidance and seemingly endless equine wisdom. Conversations were peppered with earthy humour and abundant smiles to warm up the grey skies and keep the rain at bay.
We learnt that horses are prey animals and have a finely honed ability to sense changes in the environment and people’s emotions. They notice nuances in expression and body language and respond accordingly, giving valuable feedback about how we are communicating.
They are straightforward and not capable of being duplicitous; what they show on the outside matches how they feel on the inside. Vicky explained that horses are sensitive to duplicity in humans. If there is a mismatch in what we humans feel and the way we express ourselves, horses will sense this, and feel less able to trust or move closer. This mirroring effect invites us to be more congruent with how we feel and what we communicate. This strengthens our attunement with the horse and with ourselves.
Horses teach us other lessons through their presence alone. Like many of our beloved furry friends, they don’t judge us on our history, appearance or dress sense. They simply let us be.
We explored our boundaries, how to respect our own and those of others. Horses let us know if they need space; they will move away. We too, can show them when they have crossed our boundary, by firmly yet non-aggressively nudging them away. We may also expand or soften our boundaries, inviting the horses with our outstretched palms to come closer.
All up this was a truly moving experience, topped off with a yummy lunch and homemade scones with jam and cream. Thanks to Mel’s Mum, we were extremely well fed and left with our bellies as full as our hearts.
What the attendees had to say…
'The whole experience of being with horses was extremely good for body and soul'
'Amazing day with animals, Mother Nature and fantastic people. Very safe space to let your emotions go free’
‘Being with horses made me aware of my personal boundaries, and helped me to assert them more’.
‘My first experience with horses…it was a beautiful space to connect, beautiful set up and comforting energy'…
'What a wonderfully uplifting experience, I can't speak highly enough of it. I would encourage anyone who was too ‘in their heads’ or a little stressed to give it a go’…
‘The experience was deeply moving and I felt I was able to be myself and be seen’