Our Wellbeing workshops use the 5 Ways of Wellbeing to theme each of the sessions following the framework developed by New Economics Foundation. May’s workshop was on ‘Take Notice’ and our participants used time with the therapy herd and a mindful walk to practice really taking notice of themselves and those around them. The practice of taking notice can help to ground and settle emotions, providing a sense of calm and wellbeing.
Here we talk through how taking notice whilst grooming and interacting with a horse we can feedback to ourselves creating a sense of calm and wellbeing.
Have you ever found yourself overwhelmed by emotion? Did you know that being present in that moment can really help to regulate these feelings and manage these situations?
To Groom a horse whilst taking notice.
Notice your breath, he already has. Head pops from hay net observing as you approach. Feet fidget and step slightly away. Slow your breath, your heart betrays the caution you feel approaching shining bay fur dancing in the sunlight. Take your time, breath deeply, feet become still and head begins to drop. Notice as your breathing begins to slow and sync with the movement of your hand. Warm breath from a velvet nose caresses your hand as you present it to say hello. Feel the warmth, the sweet smell from the hay as you take another big breath. Shoulders begin to drop, their head softens and lowers. Thoughts begin to intrude – ‘am I doing this right’, ‘what if I hurt him’, ‘does he like me’, heart rate rises as you try to think of all the possible outcomes. A head shoots up, a tail swishes, suddenly he moves into your space your thought process interrupted as you realise you need to come back to the moment. Follow the flow of their coat, notice the individual hairs as they dance across muscled flesh.
Feel the warmth from the sun kissed coat. Slow your movements, slow your breath and notice as a tail becomes still, a head drops and hear the gentle noise of hay being pulled from the net and chewed. A snort, a laugh, feel the tension begin to drop as you relax into the moment, the sensation of the brush on their skin, the resistance, the strength of the animal so close and so calm.
As thoughts begin to intrude again, a swish or a flick or a step brings you back to the moment you are in. For this time there are no bills to pay, grief to wrestle, plans to make. There is the movement of the brush, the breathing of the horse and the warmth of the sun. Each time your thoughts wander using their reactions as a guide you can spend longer here, in this moment of calm, letting the worries melt as your breathing slows.
All our participants benefited from the relation of a grooming session and after using the time to centre and relax were then able to go into the field with the horses at liberty and groom the horses. By being calm and present the horses were happy to enjoy the attention and definitely liked having their favourite spots scratched! We were then able to go on a mindful walk through the fields and everyone certainly noticed when the whole herd came charging through the middle of the group!