Spend time with horses and soothe your anxiety.
Updated: Mar 15
NEW: A FREE evening group for adults in Leicestershire.
Nat has loved horses FOREVER. And she’s worked with them at our local stables for almost just as long. So I couldn’t wait to catch up with her about plans to bring together adults, perhaps with anxiety, depression and other health conditions, through caring for horses.
Nat admits anxiety has always impacted on all aspects of her life and horses have always played a huge role in helping her through the rough patches. She has made a career out of being around them and has taught a diverse range of people to ride and care for horses for almost twenty years; kids to adults, from all backgrounds and with all manner of additional needs.
Ten years ago Nat was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease. She battled with her weight, hair loss, pain and discomfort and she remembers times when she came round on the bathroom floor after passing out. Her symptoms progressively worsened, her Crohn’s became very aggressive and she began to develop abscesses in her bowel- one of which went into sepsis and came close to killing her. After two emergency operations she was left with an ilestomy bag.
Nat tells me she was in and out of hospital, trying treatments and medication and nothing seemed to be working. She developed complex fistulas (yes I had to look it up to understand), had 6 seton stitches to try and correct this condition and also developed pyoderma (serious ulcers) on her legs and around her ilestomy bag. Her body was so inflamed inside and out and in constant, extreme pain. She recalls her skin was so damaged and raw that her ilestomy bag wouldn’t stick to her body and she had to use masking tape to secure it and keep it from leaking.
This, she tells me, was one of her darkest times in handling what was being thrown at her.
As she explains her hellish experiences it is very hard to not feel emotional.
Nat has not been a stranger to adversity in her life. But this whole experience took its toll and unsurprisingly proved to be one of her biggest challenges.
Since the diagnosis and subsequent complications, processes and treatments, Nat explained her mental health has been an ongoing struggle. As always, working with, looking after and being around the horses made her feel better. Not that it was always possible with her health!
Nat eventually broke down to her specialist, feeling unable to take anything more and begged him to take away her bowel. After a gruelling 7 month wait, taking steroids to calm the ulcers on her skin she had a colostomy fitted and she tells me how it was the best decision for her. It gave her back a quality of life she’d previously lost and is currently in remission.
She still suffers with anxiety and depression but has long been thinking how she could use her experiences positively to help others.
“I want anyone who has any health condition to know they’re not alone. And to experience being around horses to help them feel better.”
It’s a simple and powerful sentiment and I totally support her.
She also assures me there is no experience with horses necessary. From May of 2020, Nat will be offering a relaxed, adult meet-up at Park View Stables (in-between Thurcaston and Anstey). The sessions will run on an evening for 90 minutes and the group will get to know the horses and learn routines of caring for them.
Nat has a unique combination of experiences which make her the perfect person to co-ordinate and deliver this group. She has a genuine motivation driving her never mind a cracking personality which I’ve no doubt are going to make this meet-up an amazing atmosphere.
For more information and/ or to reserve a place please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07825576486.
Equine therapy or EAT (Equine Assisted Therapy) is widely accepted to positively benefit mental health, wellbeing and recovery. Horses have been used in therapy for many years and are still a popular choice. The benefits include aiding self-esteem, encouraging positive emotions such as worthiness and develop confidence and independence.
Has equine therapy helped you or somebody you know? Want to share your storey? Contact me or leave a comment below :)