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I moved to Devon from Suffolk in 2013 with my family and various animals piled into the back of our horse lorry. Before we moved, my curiosity about the ever-deepening connection between me and my horse, Smuggler, led me to train in natural horsemanship (Monty Roberts and Intelligent Horsemanship). After I experienced first-hand the emotionally balancing affect that simply the presence of a horse can bring, I became fascinated by horses' apparent healing abilities and their non-verbal communication. After I lost Smuggler, a series of coincidences led me to the IFEEL qualification in Equine Facilitated Human Development and I graduated in November 2018 with their Level 5 Certificate (equivalent to a degree).
I noticed that my Shetland pony seemed extremely switched-on to the therapy work, and his awareness of 'intention' was more accute than my other horses. Pondering this, I wondered if more 'original' breeds of horse, closer to their wild ancestors, would be more sensitive. I took this idea to the Exmoor Pony Centre to begin some fairly rudimentary 'experiments' with Exmoor Ponies, just to see, and soon after (early 2019) I took up an employed position there to handle the semi-feral foals, lead treks over the moor and help to run the Visitor Centre.
At the Exmoor Pony Centre the ponies are kept in herds, and it's interested me how the same few individuals step forwards when a client is with me. The IFEEL approach to this work is to allow equines choice over whether to engage with a client. So far the 1:1 sessions at the Exmoor Pony Centre have been extremely successful and the ponies seem to engage willingly.
1:1 sessions with semi-feral herds of Exmoor Ponies out in their own environment across Exmoor have been extraordinarily powerful for some clients who have described it as "like magic". Without a doubt, this is my favourite way of working. Have a look at my 'Testimonials' page to see for yourself and get in touch if you're curious, or drawn to booking a 'Meeting With the Wild' experience.
The ethos I'm trained in stipulates unconditional respect towards humans and equines and this sits at the very centre of my work. When taking clients to free-living herds we absolutely respect that we are visiting them in their own home and do so strictly on their terms. I only approach ponies with the permission of their owners, and only on land where I have licence to do so.
I feel very honoured to be working in partnership with Exmoor National Park Authority, the National Trust (North Devon) and the Exmoor Pony Centre to deliver these experiences. I am also a North Devon Biosphere Business Partner.
I'm accredited with the National Council of Psychotherapists and am registered with SAFE practitioners; I'm fully insured, DBS checked and hold a current first aid certificate. All therapy sessions are strictly confidential.