February 14th, 2021At one with a horse’s heart
And that, according to creator of Heart of the Horse, Rachael Gibson, is the magic of horses and their power to be still in the moment.
“There is such a subtle energy at work that people sometimes find it hard to describe how they feel afterwards,” she said.
“Horses are naturally present and live in the moment. I have an amazing herd of four horses as well as Kasey, a very astute border collie, who are all incredibly connected and can feel the energy around them. They respond to that in so many subtle ways throughout the time spent in the paddock.”
There seems to be a greater understanding of the power of horses in helping heal and relieve anxiety in humans. For a long time, we have been reading about their ability to make a difference in the lives of children and adults on the spectrum and those suffering PTSD.
For Rachael, certified in Equine Assisted Learning, her lifelong passion with horses and her roles, which always included working with people and families in a wholistic way, paved the way for her to include her beloved herd of horses – Boomer, Lady, Tavi and Clover – into her passion for working with people and helping them to walk away from a session a little lighter and perhaps a little more grounded.
Rachael worked as a doula for 10 years and as part of a team in holistic rehabilitation in Daylesford for five years prior to working with horses in this way. She is passionate about being present with people through times of intensity and transformation. All of her offerings have a central theme of connecting people back home within themselves and their personal empowerment.
“I harness the wisdom of horses, in a facilitated environment, to help people explore aspects of their lives that are causing concern or even distress. My certification with horses combined with the healing processes and skills that I have cultivated in private practice for the last decade has led me to create an equine-based healing experience quite unlike any other,” she said.
At the beginning of each group session Rachael sets up what she describes as a sacred space. Once seated in a large circle, the group takes turn to chat about themselves. For some it’s brief. Others are more willing to share. But whatever an individual’s journey, Rachael says the initial ice breaker is all about people speaking from the heart and paves the way for some ‘special moments’ with the horses.
“There is an amazing energy that comes from being in a group and the sacred circle sets everyone up for moving into the space where the horses are. It takes a few minutes for people to settle before the magic happens. People can sit, lie on a bed under a beautiful tree, move towards the horses straight away. It is simply a matter of being in the presence of these magnificent animals,” she said.
Horses can mirror human emotions and behaviour back to the individual, this can help people understand the energy they convey in their lives. Rachael believes by exploring these unfoldings in a facilitated environment it helps people take responsibility for their choices, emotional responses and reactions.
“One of the most subtle but powerful aspects of this work is how the horses model stillness and the profound effect it has on people in their presence,” she said.
“By taking some time to be with calm and healthy horses, every part of you surrenders to the present moment. Sessions involve practical tools that you can take back into your everyday life, giving you the opportunity to continue with ongoing healing and transformation.”
The majority of Rachael’s work is connecting one on one through individual sessions as it creates for a more personal and private environment for therapeutic work.
Whether you choose to simply be with the horses for a couple of hours, be part of a day retreat or a four-month course, Rachael’s gentle nature and that of her horses truly makes for an incredibly unique experience.
Just as it did for a group of 20 strangers who all shared such an experience together and walked away after feeling a little bit of magic in a paddock.
Above, group therapy, below, Rachael and her horses
Words: Narelle Groenhout | Images: Supplied