CommunityDelivering equine therapy is pure horse sense

Delivering equine therapy is pure horse sense

equine assisted therapy
Rivendells Equine Assisted Therapy and Learning facility operator Debora Lewis with client Ben and his favourite horse Rosie.

Debora Lewis has established Rivendells Equine Assisted Therapy and Learning just off Mount Perry Road at Moolbooloman about 16km north-west of Gin Gin.

The bond between humans and companion animals has long been recognised as a calming and therapeutic union.

Nowhere is this bond more evident than the relationship that can be established between troubled humans and the sensory perception of horses.

The rural setting and the quiet location provides a place where wellness and healing can begin through human interaction with horses.

When a number of accidents in 2015 curtailed her normal work abilities, Debora returned to her love of horses to provide work and an avenue to deliver assisted healing.

“I trained at the Equine Psychotherapy Institute under Meg Kirby, the founder of the Institute and an absolute well of wonderful equine therapy knowledge,” she said.

The skills achieved through training at the institute dovetailed with the many accreditations and diplomas Debora has achieved to support her work with mental health clients.

Rivendells Equine Assisted Therapy and Learning is situated on a historic Kolan Shire property, the original site of Mount Pleasant Hotel (circa 1888). The existing house, currently under renovation, reflects the ornate charm of buildings of that era.

The 150-acre rural property, showcasing several majestic Moreton Bay Figs, is home to a dozen horses of different breeds and all with different life stories.

For Debora, the horses and their different backgrounds and life experiences mirror the lives of the clients she welcomes to Rivendells.

“When clients come here and engage with the horses they learn to self-regulate and to promote self-awareness,” she said.

“As prey animals, horses are acutely attuned to the body language of humans. The horses act as mirrors, so whatever your energy is, or your emotions are at that time, they're going to mirror that to you.

“It about the authentic relationship horses bring to humans and how they teach us to live in the moment.”

Debora has enjoyed a fruitful association with horses and has long been aware of the special abilities horses have in dealing with clients suffering psychological, stress, depression, anxiety and relationship issues.

“I came to the property 18 years ago with two horses. Further acquisitions through rescue horses and other donations has grown the herd to 12 horses,” she said.

Debora said her mission is to offer the rural community a non-judgemental inclusive service that supports people on their recovery journey with the help of the horses to deliver therapy and a connection.

Rivendells equine therapy
Rivendells clients Ben and Cassie groom one of the therapy horses.

“My clients here today, Ben and Cassie, are engaged in haltering, grooming and leading the horses and you can tell everyone including the horses are calm and relaxed.”

Ben said he had attended the property and engaged with the horses on a number of occasions. Rosie is my favourite. She is gentle and easy to handle and I like to lead her and give her a brush.”

The property is also home to Gypsy the Great Dane cross which is in training to be a certified therapy dog.

“He goes into mental health on a fortnightly basis supporting mental health consumers and has been doing that for a year.”

“I couldn’t get a horse in there,” laughed Debora, “But Gypsy, being a Great Dane cross is almost the size of a pony and every week he fosters hope and social connection.

“He can draw 17 of 20 self-isolating people out of their units to engage with him.”

Rivendells Equine Assisted Therapy is an NDIS approved service provider. More information on the facility’s operation can be found online or phone Debora Lewis on 0499 409 693.