Dale, Kim and their daughter moved to Milford Bay Muskoka Ontario to a wild old farm, to create a self-sufficient homestead and raise their daughter in nature and fresh air. They were gifted with four horses; a herd picked for its abilities to heal through animal assisted therapy.
Linda Kohanov writes beautifully in Tao of Equus, “the field…has amassed thousands of anecdotes showing horses to be highly effective in helping people reintegrate mind and body, increase awareness of unconscious behaviour patterns, and develop the self-confidence, stress management, and assertiveness skills that lead to increased success in relationships, career, school, and parenting.”
The horses are here for mental health practitioners and organizations to bring their patients and clients to connect with our animals, accelerate their healing through a non-verbal way of building feelings of trust, safety and connection. Thanks to Animal Assisted Intervention International for their help as we create a program and farm spaces that encourage safe interactions and healing work.
Following Jaime Jackson’s Paddock Paradise model and natural horsemanship principles written by Joe Camp via The Soul of a Horse, Kim and Dale are creating a lifestyle for the herd, as close to wild as possible, to keep them healthy and happy.
Petting, hugging and time with a prey animal is a soul soothing experience we want to offer our most vulnerable people; the elderly, children, people with mental health challenges and those people in palliative care.
The horses’ freedom track is in its first phase for the winter of 2016; a half acre lane that slopes gently in the pine trees. Fence building parties and fundraising in 2017 will expand the track so the horses can walk the entire perimeter of the property’s thirty acres, with observation points built for people to connect with the horses. Also in 2017, we envision a comfortable and inviting meeting space (maybe a yurt?) for people to meet, discuss and process their experiences here. Imagine talking as a group and seeing glimpses of the horses as they run and walk, foraging for most of their twenty-four hours, always together and outside. Our plan in 2017 is also to offer animal assisted interventions with our chickens, pigs and cats, who are well-suited to serving people and giving hugs.
In addition to receiving visits to the farm, the herd will travel to retirement homes, hospitals and hospices, to share their loveability and gentle spirits with people unable to travel.
Dale is a psychotherapist and host of CBC television show Hello Goodbye. Kim is a qualifying psychotherapist and account director at Workopolis. Returning to Muskoka where Dale spent some of his youth, living in nature and raising happy animals, is a dream come true for Kim and Dale.
They live happily on the farm with their daughter, their son who visits from university, and their expanding animal family…four horses, five ducks, six chickens, six pigs, two cats and a dog.