Equine Facilitated Therapy is an increasingly recognised way of exploring a wide range of emotional and mental health issues, in a way that is safe, supported and generally more easy to engage with by those who find traditional office based therapies too challenging.
Horses are widely accepted as being highly sensitive, intuitive animals but are also generally accepting of, and often encouraging of human interaction. However, they are also completely nonjudgemental, and very present, they live life totally in the moment. This unique collection of traits provides an environment ideally suited to clients needing to explore their thoughts, feelings and behaviours whilst in the presence of a companion who accepts them for who they are, and offers unquestioning support whilst they consider new ways to think, feel and act that may lead to positive change within their lives.
The CHAOS Herd consists of currently 16 horses and ponies within the herd, who between them have a wide range of size, type, age, gender and backgrounds. They work with our fully trained and insured therapy team and equine specialists to offer a huge source of wisdom and experience to our clients enabling a truly personal, client-centred approach to the sessions.
No previous experience with horses is necessary, in fact those who feel uncertain or anxious around horses can find the sessions incredibly empowering, though maintaining physical and emotional safety at all times is a priority.
I have been a GP for 25 years, over which time I have developed a specific interest in helping people with emotional and mental health issues. This led me to explore non-medical ways to improve people’s lives, particularly as the standard methods of treatment (medication or CBT based therapy) often didn’t seem to be as helpful as hoped. As a result in 2016 I trained as an Equine Therapist with LEAP ( one of the groups at the forefront of Equine Facilitated Learning and Therapy in the UK) in the hope to be able to offer some alternative to these usual methods.
My enthusiasm to develop a service offering this incredibly effective therapy to those in need in Cornwall, led me to CHAOS Farm and together with Jess and the wonderful CHAOS Herd, we have been able to do so since then.
My own horses have always been my “therapy” when life has been difficult and it is a privilege to have the capacity to enable others to experience the healing powers our equine friends can share with us all.
I grew up with horses as part of my family and from a young age, i recognised that every horse had a very different, and distinct character and that each would play a role within peoples lives at different times. From this I studied to become a veterinary nurse and learn about animals as a whole, small furries to horses and farm animals.
My veterinary nursing led me to move away from Cornwall, where I learnt more about people, their varied needs and supporting them when their much loved pets departed. Different events unfolded and I was fortunate to move back home to Cornwall. I changed my learning to a human focus, with horses and animals in general still very much my love. I studied, learnt and grew my knowledge and helped to initiate the palliative care team within Stayathome Cornwall, going onto develop the paediatric palliative and complex care team.
Opportunities arose, in which I could combine my love of animals and helping people, I moved across to develop CHAOS farm, whilst empowering people to make positive changes in their lives. I became an equine therapist through the equine facilitated learning and therapy model, EAGALA, soon becoming the South West Network Coordinator and helping other facilitators learn and grow to a high standard. Being passionate about food and the planet, as a team we developed the horticultural branch of CHAOS Farm to focus on lowering food miles, reducing food poverty and further empowering people to help themselves.
Today, CHAOS Farm, people, animals and the planet, are my passions.