I turned sixty-five last month, an age when you’re meant to retire graciously, or that’s what I have always believed. My dad retired at sixty-five with no plan to do anything except stop work. I suggested he write a book, so he did. I have a copy on my bookshelf. He died only seven years into retirement, so just the one book.
Now that I am sixty-five, I have started a new job. Someone told me the other day it was a long way down from the pinnacle of success I had known in my earlier career. They couldn’t be further from the truth. What is this new job? (Erm, I am still writing stories! My new job is part time) I have started working in Equine Therapy. Horses helping people basically. It is something I have wanted to do my entire life.
To know how monumental this is, you need a little background
I was horse mad as a kid and it’s never left me. I didn’t have my own horse growing up, I rented them on the weekend. I longed for one and every birthday wish, every first star, I wished for a pony. I wanted to be like those kids in the stories who rode to school and went on horse riding adventures, belonged to pony clubs and won ribbons at royal shows.
Just being anywhere near horses sent me into another stratosphere. I was happy mucking out stables, anything just so I could smell horses. Horses were my confidants. They knew all my deepest secrets and shared all the pain in my young heart. Horses know how to listen, they understood me. They are creatures who live in the present, in the now. They don’t care how you look or what you wear.
My horse madness meant that all my friends had to come riding, my husband had to come riding, even my boss and his family had to come riding. We rode every weekend until the children came along. Then we had one pony after another, just so they could experience being near horses.
Horses bring healing and wholeness in a way that not even dogs can. Dogs, like us, are predators although unlike us, they love unconditionally. Horses are not like dogs, they are prey animals, more like a deer than a dog, you have to win their hearts.
My early career involved working with young people, and I tried to get horse programmes into what we were already doing. Equine Therapy wasn’t around and my crazy ideas were shut down. I knew if we could design some sort of programme with horses and young people, change would happen. Now, at the end of my working life, I have been given the opportunity to do just that. To put young people, indeed any people, together with horses.
There are Equine Therapy programmes popping up everywhere these days, some working with people on the Autism spectrum, some helping people suffering PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and many other areas. People are experiencing recovery after participating in horse programmes. Who knew? Not that it’s all about anxiety or depression or recovery from trauma. Some need to build confidence, some are lonely, some are sad or frightened. For some it’s a corporate team training day.
The programme I am working with, ‘Horses for Humanity’ is in the exciting early stages. I am thrilled to finally be doing something I have wanted to do for as long as I can remember and the Director just happens to be a lifelong friend. It doesn’t get any better than that.
I invite you to have a look at the website here: horsesforhumanity.com.au