On Saturday the 11th and Sunday 12th August VANEL’s IGNITE programme, in partnership with The Foyer, facilitated a two-day ‘Horse Whisperings’ workshop for six young people suffering from depression and/or anxiety. IGNITE Youth Leadership Worker Lisa Anderson organised the workshop and supported the young people on their weekend of learning and self-discovery. Many of the young people had been involved with VANEL’s IGNITE programme, either as project leaders or volunteers.
The workshop took place at Manor Farm in East Holton, Lincolnshire, and was lead by Masterson Method practitioner and Horse Psychologist, Lou Wilks. With the help of her horses, Lou’s helps people to equip themselves with the skills they need to overcome the barriers preventing them from becoming the best version of themselves. In order to achieve this Lou had prepared a number of activities both with and without the horses which aimed to improve the young people’s communication skills and increase their level of self-confidence. The activities included meditation, talking therapy and indirect communication with the horses (no touching or talking). The purpose of the last activity was to encourage the young people to observe the behaviour and body language the horses in order to get closer to them.
In teams of two the young people the young people were asked to build an obstacle course using materials found on the farm which they then had to lead the horse across. The purpose of this exercise was to help the young people work together as a team, demonstrate patience and communicate effectively with both the horse and each other. The young people were treated to a tour of the grounds and were asked to observe their surroundings in order to encourage them to be mindful and understand the importance of ‘living in the now’ as opposed to thinking or worrying about things that may have happened in the past or ‘might’ happen in the future. The young people were invited to reflect on the things that they had learned during each of the days and ask any questions that they had.