Nederlandse Stichting Helpen met Paarden – Equitherapie

Report of the workshop in Belgium

Report of the

Workshop 5th meeting LDV Belgium 27 januari 2012

Experience of Maria van Eijk (student member SHP)


A little bit late, caused by a traffic jam, we arrived at the manege where a workshop took place. Before we got into the manege we got the possibility to get an issurance, by writing our names and birth-dates on a paper.

The actual workshop


At the manege, I saw a lot of stables. I got invited into a piste, there I saw 4 horses, they walked around free, and soothing music played.

The leader of the workshop asked everybody to search a place in the piwww. Then she asked us to concentrate to ourselfs. I found my place away from the people and the horses.

I didn't feel at ease with the situation, the horses were walking around and at one point a horse got agressive, and kicked an other horse. Guests standing in the way, escaped by running away.

She reached me a paper, and a pencil, with questions to answer. The questions were about feelings, which feeling i liked, which I hated, what I wanted to do with my horse, what wishes I had etc.. Then there were questions about handicaps, which I didn't want to become etc.

After filling in the form she took them in, asking if she could look at the answers. I rejected, and that was okay.

It was difficult for me to concentrate myself, I became aware that I was on my guard.

After filling in the form, the leader of the workshop told us, that because we are experts with horses, she wanted us to handicap ourselves. We could choose a handicap: deaf, blind, bandage on the arm, that difficults the balance, being mute, or hearing voices and terrible music. I choose to be deaf.

The leader of the workshop repeated several times: „There are no clients, no therapists. You are you with a handicap and you have a helper. So there's you and there is a helper. It's up to you to use your helper". After a while roles got switched. So I could become a helper and the other guest took on her handicap.

The leader of the workshop asked to pick a horse to work with. I picked the kicked horse. He was nice, licked me a lot at my hands ( I had sugar candy's eaten in the car), so we became friends. Another guest was my companion and my helper because ,I had a handicap.

Fortunately, My eardops didn't work that good, so my hearing was okay, but I played deaf.

At first a walked next to the horse, after a while I liked to sit on him. Another helper (from the manege?) asked me if I needed a saddle. I rejected, because I assumed this was a trained horse, who was used to be ridden bare backed. So I got on the horse and hold me on the mane of the horse. After a short while the lady (from the manege?) asked me if I would like to sit the other way around. I agreed. After standing still for a short while, I gestured the horse could walk. So it happened.

Then I heard a noise, a horse running, I saw a guest lying flat on the horse who kicked several times, until the guest fell from the horse and layed quiet and still immediately. People run to the guest, I jumped of my horse and fetched the horse who was walking around free. I walked around with the horse on a rope and had to adjust at the new situation.

The way the workshopleader handled the new/unsafe situation


It looked bad, a guest on the floor, not conscious, people trying to get into contact with her. It took minutes, then the leader of the workshop sat on her knees on the floor and took the head of the fallen guest on her lap. In that position she asked the other guests to continue with the workshop.

I didn't want to continue, the whole situation wasn't safe. A fallen guest (already conscious) and the leader of the workshop on the ground, but not able to move when necessary, in the middle of horses on halter, with „handicapped" people in the same space. It wasn't safe and I didn't feel at ease with the whole situation. My teacher felt the same way and we both stood aside and watched what happened further.

The fallen guest got a chair, but still in the middle oft he whole situation, it wasn't more safe.

The leader of the workshop came to my teacher and me and invited us again to continue. We rejected again, because the situation was still not safe and we felt very uncomfortable. The leader didn't want us to stand aside, so we left the situation and went to the canteen.

After a little while everybody arrived into the canteen.


The leader of the workshop arranged an after-talk


Unfortunately in the after-talk didn't mention risks and how to prevent them, but it went about what happened, according to one person (the Belgium psyciatrist?) involved with the horse where the accident accured. There was no possibility for the other guest (Slowakian guest?), who was involved also with the horse where the accident accured, to talk about what happened and how it felt for her.

The whole situation had to do with communication (according to the workshopleader) and the lack of communication between the guests and the horse.

At the end of the workshop and the after-talk, we got a questionlist, I really don't remember what that was about.

My feelings and thoughts afterwards:

This workshop is still on my mind. I feel bad, because I trusted the situation I was placed in at first. Quickly I got unease, but took risks myself because I thought the leaders of the workshop knew what they were doing?

· During my training, I learn people who are unbalanced seek for balance with the therapist and the horse. In this workshop everybody was invited to become unbalanced in several ways.

· During my training, I learn safety and reducing risks is very important. In this workshop I experienced an increasing amount of risks.

· During my training, I learn that it's very important to talk openminded, about what happenes when something goes wrong. What to learn about it, to prevent the same faults in the future. In this workshop there was no open mind to look at what happened, and to prevent this from happening again. (the workshopleader: " accidents happen..")

· During my training, I learn that the relationship between the therapist-horse-client in a triangle is very important. In this workshop there was a lack of relationship with the horse. On beforehand we were told : there was no client, no therapist.

· During my training I learn it's important to work with a well known and well trained horse. I'ts important for the horse what he can expect in his situation. In this workshop the leader of the workshop didn't know the horses at all, ( I heared that later at diner),so it is not known how well-trained the horses were for this workshop.