The Pegasus Project is a new area of collaboration.
We are working with Brain Health Breakthrough who have already done amazing work locally on Long Covid, depression, trauma etc. The Pegasus Project is where we work together, Adventure Neighground providing the equine sessions and Brain Health Breakthrough the therapy backup.
The human and therapy side of it can be found in more detail here Brain Health Breakthrough Pegasus Project
From our side, we use our five horses and ponies to deliver non ridden sessions.
The horses have come from a variety of backgrounds, but all have needed some extra care in order to prepare them for this work. Each horse needs to be emotionally stable, but expressive. They are introduced to some obstacle training, but we do not overdo this, as the challenge of persuading a horse to negotiate a new obstacle is part of what the clients will do. There would be no authenticity in the work if the horse behaved like an automaton.
While the client grooms or handles the horse they are supervised with general discussion on what they observe about the animal to introduce both body language awareness but also deepen the empathy and care by responding to likes and dislikes.
It is vital that our horses benefit from the experience and that their welfare is not compromised in any way. We limit the number of sessions for individual horses, and ensure that they all have as much herd social time as possible.
Prior to Pegasus we were unable to use the term Therapy as there was no qualified therapist working with us or the clients. There were, however, significant therapeutic benefits documented by Occupational Therapists, Support staff, family etc.
Brain Health Breakthrough embraces the same approach and attitude to restoring mental health as we do. Our ideas and discussions have shown that we have common aims and teaming up together was an easy and natural partnership.
We want you to forget any stigma of mental health illnesses and instead to grow your wellness. Cast aside the notion that horses need to be ridden, or a certain age, or size, or type in order to be useful. Ignore the public perception that horses are in some way for people who have money, or the elite, or that ‘horsey people’ have a way of doing things. Don’t imagine for one moment that you are going to be spending your time mucking out stables.
This is more.
This is communicating with horses on a deeper level. Tapping into their ancient mammalian brain to access the CARE and PLAY emotions. And we have those same emotions. So do dogs, cats, gorillas, lemurs – if it is a mammal, it has them! As you start to activate that part of the horse brain, it is reciprocated in your own brain.
Emotions of nurture and joy – smothered by the niceties of being polite, behaving like a ‘grown up’, responsibilities of life – the base emotions start to come to the surface and YOU start to feel cared for, nurtured, and you loosen the shackles as we sing, dance, play, connect and move with the horse. It’s liberating and scary, makes you laugh or maybe even release emotions and cry, but we are all in it together out there in the arena. Supporting, growing and learning together.
This isn’t just about learning about horses, it’s about learning to rejoice in the world around you and in yourself.