So where's the snow?

Muddling through in Austria; God, life and a small black dog


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Equine Assisted Therapy workshop

Following our training for EAGALA, Edith and I decided to run another Workshop to highlight the Equine Assisted L earning, (EAL) and went for it. This time we invited  people directly, did a Facebook page and invitations, advert in the paper and in the local tourist office – result, three people and two kids from the stables.  I guess its time to re think, we either have to go down the line of going completely professional, doing more workshops, more plugging around offices and officialdom, or maybe just have an open therapy session, such as a de-stress day,or relaxation day, but do things regularly. The other option is just leave it as it is – we get occasional people coming to us.  The changing situation at the stables where there’s more and more liveries who expect to use the arena 24/7 makes it difficult with privacy  and safety. Maybe its time to move on from the horses, despite my love of teaching riding, I’m determined this time to stay on God‘s agenda not mine.

Still it was fun working through the  basic EAGALA exercises and  seeing the dynamics and personalities of our victims, no,I mean volunteers, who were mostly complete strangers to each other.  We’ll see!


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EAGALA and me!

Part of any EAGALA training is taking part in the activities yourself and so I was watching what was coming up and selected what I thought would be a simple one which wouldn’t be too difficult and then my bit would be done.  So when they asked for volunteers to get a horse (s) over an obstacle without touching the horse (I may remember wrongly) , no bribing and without talking, I thought easy and was there.  So it proved, with us linking arms together and with one of the ladies walking by the horse it was easily done, the only problem was the group deciding if finished.  It was the end of day and we all went home and I didn’t give it another thought.

It was only the next day , when we met again that everything suddenly hit me as others shared their experiences. One lady had been blown away by the whole experience and I’d never noticed.  For once I had completely lost focus on the horse, I was just in on myself and getting finished, and no-one else. I had felt I knew it all and this was just a simple exercise that meant nothing.  I know I’m single-minded, and can really only focus on one area at a time, and now I was showing the traits of the old arrogance – it’s still here.  With this, I felt a little low and wanted to touch and rub a horse. 

This set me wondering, do I prefer animal contact to people?  More affection that way too, due to my untouched childhood?  Do I have a need to touch and feel?  I don’t know!!!  Then one of the horses came and started blowing down the neck of one of the trainers and I was reminded of when I first came to Austria.  Despite all my saying I’d given up horses, I was missing them as they’d been so much part of my life.  I met Edda, who took me to visit her horses and as we went across the field, this huge thoroughbred youngster came up to me and snuffled my hair and I just stood there and felt the comfort of the touch, his interest in me, and was so grateful and touched, I felt rejuvenated.  Then at the training, the Shetland pony who was in charge of hospitality came up to the woman sitting in front of me and began snuffling her – I was so jealous!  I was needing that too, then he came to me, snuffled and lipped the side of my face so it was wet – I had to laugh, I’d got double the dose!  Watching these people I was with, all touching, scratching  and communicating with the horses, I suddenly realised I wasn’t alone.  And that was the greatest peace giver of all, I’m not alone in this bond with horses and from at that moment I was at peace.  If this work can do this for me, what more can it do for those in real pain and damage? How much more when this therapy is used to start God‘s healing?


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Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Training

Horse offering therapy!

This is the third time I’ve done this – mainly so I can keep my certification renewed and it was a great chance to network and keep up with new stuff. It all comes under the banner of Equine Assisted Learning (EAL)  or Therapy  (EAT) which is becoming more widespread as therapy. Last time the training was in Austria and as I’ve said, this time was a bit of a trek.  There’s a part two in the same place this summer, but I don’t think I’ll have the cash!

We had a different trainer this time, Mickey from the USA, so she brought a whole new slant on things. It was far more tiring this time, maybe me, maybe the weather, I don’t know. The training was more relaxed, but its the first time I’ve heard so many people question the method and disagree with it.  What their final verdict is I can’t tell. There were Germans, several Americans, mostly due to the USA airbase in the area, a Dutch couple, a Swiss lady and me as the token Brit! This time, the trainees themselves were discovering things about themselves, which shows how powerful this therapy can be. There was annoyance when it was not picked up that a trainee was in tears, but I could see why myself.  It was a totally unreal situation with people watching, a disparate band of people who didn’t know each other and a task that wasnt related to this group situation.  The trainers did debate what to do, and I think they made a right decision to let the group deal with it. In real life, a parent, sibling or friend would deal with this.  My only question is that if you are providing emotional safety, is comfort a part of this?

We worked though all the standard exercises and what stood out for me, is that I step in too soon, when people should be allowed to,’follow the process’.  We also did role play and I was put in the role of the Mental Health expert which I found really difficult as I couldn’t stop watching the horses. Yet Edith and I both felt we’ve been working together on the right tracks and this has helped us to add more skills to help people.

The only thing I didn’t like was the end, it ran over and people had to go and there was no formal Goodbye, or certificate giving or even a photo shoot, which left me a bit lost. Similarly, the translation between the two languages maybe made things take longer and maybe it would have been better to stick to English or German. However, I was so tired at the end all I wanted to do was get back to the Hotel and crash out! Do look at the articles below.