Watching from the car when I first arrived, much too early for my appointment, I saw Jacqui walk into a field of horses and stand for a few moments while they ambled towards her. She sat on the ground when they got nearer and one by one each one yawned and again, one by one their heads lowered in a completely relaxed state, they then lay down in a stretched out state of utter trusting relaxation. What was this all about? Slowly Jacqui got up and left them all dozing in the warm spring sun.
These horses have come through the darkest of situations. Beings who had given up hope. When a being feels there is no hope and is resigned to the life assigned to them it is so often visible in their eyes, their bearing and their fear of trusting in any other being.
It is the same for human beings as it is for animals and they frequently recognise it in one another. This is particularly so for the noble and beautiful horse family. Their willingness to acquiesce to the will of their human masters is usually through domination and sometimes that has been known to have been accompanied by aggression of the most terrible kind.
For many human beings a state of depression, leading to deepest despair, is like a living hell. It can be caused by many things but as with the animal family, the result is the same – trust is hard, if not impossible to find in such cases.
We suffer in silence.
Jacqui recognises this need for trust in order to be able to heal, and has set up a healing space for horses and people which is incredible in its atmosphere of peace and tranquility. Trust exudes from the creatures in her care. To see her with them is like watching a magical interaction that amazes, especially when you realise that most of these horses have been rescued from the most dire of situations. One, a racehorse so damaged by her treatment that she could not bear to be touched. Another, tied up and abandoned, neglected, uncared for, unfed and dying. A foal, taken from its mother and abandoned on a road, hardly weaned when it was found and taken in. Another found wedged in a ditch and had to be craned out in a terrified state and completely unmanageable. The stories of her rescued and rehabilitated friends are horrific in their cruelty.
“It takes a different time for each horse” Jacqui explained. In spite of the fact that their instinct tells them that this woman’s gentleness is not going to hurt them, they have learnt from experience that humans can do harm to them. It takes time for them to trust.
Working with a mindful way of being and unconditional love is something Jacqui has done with and for her human clients for years and the discovery that it works miracles with animals as well has literally been a life saver for her animal clients too.
“It’s my greatest pleasure to rest and relax with our herd. The way they teach us to truly be in the moment and accept everything is wonderfully healing for both them and us,” Jacqui shared with me. “My aim is to share this way of being so that our relationship with animals can change to one of unconditional love, rather than using them or needing them to fix something within us.”
Not just people with animals in their lives can benefit though. It’s already been so helpful for people with depression and anxiety, people who have been abused and lacking in confidence and trust. “I have a theory that people with dementia could also be helped” she told me. The possibilities seem endless. A child who was diagnosed with extreme ASD and had not been able to sit still, pay attention to anything, whose life was an endless struggle, had been captivated by the reaction of a dog which, itself, helped by the trust of this mindful work had responded to the child. Within one short walk together with his new companion, Jacqui was able to help him to be still, listen to the sound of his own feet on the gravel path, notice the difference between gravel and grass, hear the bird song around him. His longtime carers said “We were astounded, we had never seen this teenage boy attentive to anything before”.
Her work with dogs and horses living with people at the end of their tether to the extent that Jacqui is the last resort before euthanasia, is remarkable. Of course their people by this time need support and healing as well as the animals in their care, but love and trust is found and lives are saved which is a blessing for everyone.
Here is such good work done, such healing manifested and such peace available to people like the restless child, the depressed adult, with all people looking for a new quietened way of living that I wished I could shout from the barn rooftop “Come here! Put your troubles away for long enough to see how life could be for you.” The lovely couple, Jacqui and her partner David, who run this haven of tranquility have only so many hours to spare and those who can spend time here are fortunate indeed to be able to enjoy what I enjoyed on that glorious spring day.
written by Carly Allen.
See Jacqui’s website for more about this way of being.
Advanced practitioner level workshops are offered, if you would like to share this way of being with others. Together we can make a difference.