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10 Places Where You Can Try Equine Therapy

PHOTO: Lucy Lyon

We may have just found your new spiritual guru. It’s a horse.

What do you get when you cross life-coaching with a large, intuitive animal? Equine therapy—a horse-guided, personal growth experience. Humans have a long history with horses, domesticating them more than 5,000 years ago. Horses have served humans as companions, transportation, and entertainment. Now, they are increasingly acting as co-therapists. Equine coaches harness horses’ natural ability to create a nurturing environment for self-discovery and transformation. No experience (and in most cases, no riding) is required. Giddy up!

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PHOTO: Koelle Institute for Equus Coaching
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Koelle Institute for Equus Coaching

Whether you are intrigued, amused, skeptical or straight up bewildered by the idea of letting a horse lead you on a journey of self-discovery, the Koelle Institute for Equus Coaching™ in Central California is a great place to start. During the Institute’s Demo Days, observe a live session wherein a trained coach guides participants through personal transformation using the immediate feedback the horses give. And if it’s a total bust, you’re perfectly positioned to hit the beach, wind your way up the coast to Big Sur, or sip some wine in Paso Robles.

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PHOTO: Lucy Lyon
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Pink Spirit

Tap into the mystical energy of the desert and explore your inner world in a “horse soul session” with equine trainer Sandra Jelly and her Arabian horses. Sandra’s Heart Exploration Retreats marry guided horse meditations with sunrise and sunset yoga sessions, encouraging participants to take a holistic approach to developing the mind and body. The lunar-like landscapes of Wadi Rum provide a spectacular setting for your spiritual journey. Sandra welcomes individuals as well as groups of all experience levels, ages five and up.

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PHOTO: Alain Lauga / Shutterstock
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Mindfulness and Meditation Workshop

Maybe a mindfulness and equine-guided growth workshop in the south of France is just what the doctor ordered. Margaretha Montagu, equine-assisted experiential learning coach and former medical doctor—or “reformed MD,” as she calls herself—and her six horses offer multi-day group retreats in a serene, rural setting. Margaretha emphasizes personal development and stress management, and all horse-guided meditation and mindfulness activities in her workshops are followed up with a debrief in which participants unpack the experience together.

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Vanora

WHERE: Waikouaiti, New Zealand

Spend some time in the New Zealand countryside, and combine equine-assisted therapy with traditional talk therapy. Surrounded by farms and native flora and fauna, unwinding at Vanora is effortless. EAGALA-certified (Equine Assisted Growing and Learning Association) and qualified counselors can safely guide you through the equine-assisted learning experience and any emotions that arise. Individual as well as group sessions are available.

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PHOTO: Kelly Eide
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TRUE Equus Coaching™

WHERE: Dubai and Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

How fitting that a business hub such as Dubai is home to equine experiences that focus on leadership, teamwork, and business. Individuals can request private Equus Coaching™ sessions tailored to their own personal and professional development goals or join one day intensive workshops open to the public. Groups can also book private Equus Coaching™ sessions to strengthen their business through team building activities. TRUE offers equine coaching experiences in Emirates Equestrian Centre in Dubai, private workshops in Abu Dhabi, and Leadership Equus Coaching™ events in Australia.

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PHOTO: Djk | Dreamstime.com
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The Fool on the Hill

WHERE: Bedizzole, Italy

Don’t let the name fool you; certified Equus coach Giovanni Alberini is no nitwit when it comes to guiding participants through transformational equine encounters. He offers both outdoor and classroom-style individual and group coaching sessions in northern Italy. With a background in engineering and experience working for General Electric, Giovanni has particular appeal for businesses in need of team building, communications, and leadership activities.

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PHOTO: Anne Porteous
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Sierra Acres Equine Assisted Healing Centre

WHERE: Rockwood, Canada

Healthcare professionals, military, first responders, and others suffering the impacts of trauma will find a warm welcome and a new approach to alleviating their symptoms at Sierra Acres Equine Assisted Healing Center. Nurse Anne Porteous and her “equine staff” of eight horses provide a safe space for personal growth and healing. Whether you are processing deep-seated issues or simply seeking a meditation and mindfulness workshop that incorporates equine assistance, you’ll discover a variety of options and events on offer.

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PHOTO: Ashley Chapman / Shutterstock
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Sleepy Hollow Horse Riding

Equine movement can prove medicinal for people undergoing occupational, speech, or physical therapy. Sleepy Hollow utilizes this hippotherapy (equine-assisted treatment) approach in coastal Cape Town, guiding participants on horseback along beach and nature trails. They also occasionally offer a hippotherapy course for those interested in learning more about the science and practical applications.

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PHOTO: Cameron Hill
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Willow Vetch

WHERE: Adelaide, Australia

If you’re looking for a life coach and intuitive consultant to guide you through an equine encounter near the Australian Outback, Willow Vetch is the way to go. Willow provides customized individual and group workshops with a focus on self-development, communication, and leadership.

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PHOTO: Horse and Wisdom
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Horse & Wisdom

WHERE: Echt and Nieuwstadt, The Netherlands

Learn to live as your most authentic self through a Horse & Wisdom equine-assisted therapy session in the Netherlands. Let certified social worker Hetty Koenraads guide you through this personal growth experience, grounded in observing the ways in which her equine “co-therapists” reflect your inner feelings and fears. Hetty’s Horse & Wisdom experiences are available to individuals or groups at her home in Nieuwstadt or a riding school in Echt.