Benefits of Equine Therapy: Healing And Learning From Horses

by Penny Boreham

Hopethruhorses – Part Two

“Being with horses is like seeing a reflection of our authentic inner self. The way they respond is a mirror of who we really are behind the mask. They see through to the soul and shine it back at us, clearly highlighting our deepest fears. They heal those fears and transform the mirror image” Jo Corfield, Hopethruhorses.

Two weeks back, in the blog, we introduced you to the therapist, Jo Corfield, who is the founder of “Hopethruhorses” which is a new partner for Khiron House.

Those who stay with us at the residential clinic have an option to benefit from the Equine Involvement Therapy (Equine Therapy) she offers at her facility in Oxfordshire.

As Jo explained in last week’s blog (Healing And Learning From Horses) she had suffered from an eating disorder that plagued her life for thirty years. Her health only started to improve, her whole system finding more balance, once she learned how to regulate her nervous system through a relationship with one particularly healing horse, Bronwen.

It was the challenge of really getting to know Bronwen, with the help of the horse whisperers who guided Jo to understand how she and her horse responded to each other at a deep level, that led to her own recovery. This relationship taught her ways to deal with the fear that she now understands to have been at the heart of her eating disorder.

Jo then started to study horse and human psychology, in earnest, and train to be a psychotherapist so she could make her brand of Equine Involvement Therapy available to as many people as possible.

Benefits of Equine Therapy

When I met Jo I asked her about some of the people who had experienced transformation in their lives through their involvement with her natural herd of eighteen horses.

One of the people Jo told me about was a teenager suffering from anorexia who was initially frightened to approach the horses :-

 ‘She was terrified of coming into the field when she first arrived, I used to bring the horse to her. This was a girl who was out of school, painfully thin and terrified of life itself. No treatment was impacting. She would describe her depression as a black hole and would stand silently by the horse looking at the ground without engaging and talking only in monosyllables. I talked to her of how horses too suffer from depression but when allowed to live naturally in a herd they recovered. I explained to her how with freedom and the peaceful and loving company of the other horses around them their nervous systems become rebalanced freeing them of their anxious and unhappy state. Horses I told her, naturally release stress to conserve energy; they help and heal each other to create harmony within the herd and do the same for us when we are with them. Mindfulness and learning to acknowledge the beauty around her was where we began, bringing a vestige of light into her dark hole’’.

This girl came to see Jo for over a year, and as Jo explained now she is back at school and starting her A’levels:-

She still has some ups and downs but she is back truly living a life and she still comes to see me occasionally for a refresher and just to be with the horses. She loves that”

Khiron House Residents Are Benefiting

One of the current residents at Khiron House has had numerous sessions of equine involvement therapy with Jo and her horses, both before coming into the Khiron House clinic and since she has been staying here.

She observes with interest how her connection with the horses has grown, and she notices that the more she is “in her body” the more relaxed and peaceful the horses have become with her.

She smilingly says:-

“As soon as I drop my high expectations of the horses and stop caring whether they will approach me or not, and I stop ‘thinking’ too much, being too much in my head, the horses approach me more”

She adds:-

“It’s funny, but if I ever think something like ‘I can do this spiritual connection with horses thing’ they don’t come near me! I now see that you need to be really present, let go of your ego and the fear you feel about getting it all right and then they come to you. Since I have been at Khiron House I have been more in my body, and also more mindful, and it has made such a difference”.

When she first visited Jo she was suffering from severe agoraphobia and panic, and she vividly remembers the first time she met the herd. It was Bronwen who stood there and allowed her to groom her and it meant so much. Later on, when she went through a very anxious phase, experiencing a bout of tics and involuntary body movements, a small pony from the herd approached her and started grooming her wellington boots! Jo told her that this was very unusual for the particular pony, he didn’t normally readily come forward, and she and Jo both realised and felt that this was the pony’s way of reassuring her, accepting and acknowledging her symptoms.

Dreams For The Future

Jo Corfield’s belief in this remarkable therapy and her passion for it and her natural herd of eighteen horses is palpable. She wants to give as many people as she can access to the horses and the Equine Involvement Therapy.
She is currently seeking a more expansive piece of countryside so that she can enlarge the herd and offer her horses the freedom they deserve so they can keep giving out to everyone they meet in a natural environment ideal for both them and the people they teach and help.

You can contact Jo at Hopethruhorses.

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