Hooves and Healing – Part 2

Publish Date: Wednesday July 10, 2024

Hooves and Healing – Part 2

Aidan Duncan and Rich Webster from the FCCT education team have been delivering a 12-week programme called Branching Out at Pittencrieff Park, Dunfermline. In part 2 of his blog, Rich shares some thoughts from the women and men who took part.

After the initial meeting with Louis and Kiki from The Big Hoof we were invited to their home where the horses are kept. To get such an invitation was a real privilege, and this wasn’t lost on the participants.

The location was incredibly picturesque and instantly calming. Louis’s mum’s pride and joy is a beautiful walled garden, the kind that would more than hold its own on programmes such as ‘Gardeners World’.

The garden has been very cleverly thought out, and the setting within the four walls created a genuine sense of security as well as beauty with all the many flowers on display. We all very much enjoyed a tour of the many flowers and vegetables on display before moving on to foraging.

“To be invited to Louis and Kiki’s place has been a real highlight of the programme for me. The gardens and the horses brought a very calming atmosphere. It was a really special day out.”

Foraging

Time spent at The Big Hoof base provided a second opportunity for the participants to spend more time with the horses. Almost all took up the opportunity for a second shot on horseback.

We foraged for wild garlic which the group then made into wild garlic pesto, on site, and took away to enjoy on pasta that evening. With the sun shining brightly and the aroma of garlic in the air, we could have been forgiven for thinking we had been transported to the Mediterranean for the day.

 

From the horse’s mouth

There is no doubt that, while the participants have enjoyed other aspects of Branching Out, the opportunity to meet and get to know the horses, and for some, enjoy their very first horse ride has been a highlight for them.

Branching Out’s ethos is embedded in time spent outside, and the powerful healing properties of this approach are well known.

Facilitating a space for women and men to embrace their natural surroundings, while learning new skills, has had a profound impact on them. All who attended this session took something different from it.

Photo-of-two-horses'-faces-and-the-backs-of-two-people
The horses Sasha and Izzy

For one lady, being in such a beautiful garden kept a smile on her face all afternoon. As someone who spends many an hour tending to her own garden, this setting was one that was very close to her heart. It was to become her standout highlight for her, when I had an informal debrief with her when the programme ended.

“Having to plan out tasks in line with the seasons in the coming months – with regards to flowers and vegetables – helps to form positive thoughts.
It’s nice to have things to plan for and look forward to.” GM

For another, the chance to be re-united with the horses made sure he was smiling all afternoon too.

This outdoor approach – coupled with some animal therapy, projects such as building bird boxes, wood carving and time spent around a campfire, with a photography element throughout – well, it’s easy to see why this programme has had such a positive impact on people.

“I always cope with things better after spending time outside.” IR

“The most important thing for me is that the sessions are outside. It makes them so special.” GM

To find out more about Branching Out, please visit our project page.

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