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Horse project will improve mental health

By Christie Breen
Annan and Eskdale
Horse project will improve mental health

A NEW project using horses to improve people’s mental health and wellbeing has completed its pilot programme.

ChangeWays Through Horses is a non-profit organisation based in Middlebie which uses equine therapy to encourage people to overcome issues such as depression or anxiety.

During the sessions, which are held in a field, group members are free to roam and interact as little or as much as they like with the horses and each other.

According to co-founder and psychotherapist Coral Harrison, horses are highly sensitive to their environment which helps them to tune into others.

She said: “The approach we use is unique because horses are very sensitive to humans nervous systems. A change within the herd dynamic can reflect a change within the group.

“In this pilot project we focused on well-being. This approach can bring people into the present moment and increase a feeling of calm, helping participants connect to their inner world and emotions.

“Horses can teach us so much about relationships, boundaries and self care as we observe them in their natural herd. They’ll choose when they want to be apart or together, because often as humans we adapt and do what other people want us to do but horses aren’t like that in a herd they are completely honest.”

CHANGEWAYS TEAM . . .Psychotherapist Coral Harrison (left) and equine specialist Susan Pike (right)

The seven-week pilot for the equine group was created in partnership with Annan-based charity Kate’s Kitchen after they were approached by ChangeWays. The charity’s mental health and wellbeing group facilitator, Ruth Forrest has attended each of the sessions in both a professional and personal capacity and believes this unique form of therapy has much to offer.

She said: “Not only has this been very healing and cathartic for me personally but it’s same for the group as a whole. Being part of this pilot scheme has re-energised our group, it’s given us a different focus and more tools that we can all use to empower us on our wellbeing journey.

“It’s been a very unique experience because the presence of the horses has created this gracious space for us all to explore our own healing. I really hope that this is something we can continue with in the future because there has already been some excellent feedback by the group members.”


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