I (Cal) live in Shropshire in the United Kingdom and share my life with my husband, one dog, two horses and two ponies. I work as a Clinical Psychologist and I am chartered with the British Psychological Society (BPS) and registered with the UK Health and Care Professionals Council (HCPC). I work part time in the National Health Service (NHS) and I also run my own independent practice. Within my independent practice, in addition to individual psychotherapy, I work with couples, run workshops in personal development and meditation. I also partner with the herd in my care, to offer equine facilitated psychotherapy.
For as long as I can remember I have always had a strong connection with Nature and an affinity for animals. As a little girl, I was obsessed with horses, I dreamed of being carried away by a horse with whom I had an unbreakable bond. A magical horse, whom knew exactly what I was thinking or feeling and whom would take me on adventures to incredible places. As a little girl I didn’t have the opportunity to connect with horses in real life and so I escaped from the difficulties within my childhood home by connecting with the horses of books.
I grew up, moved away and studied. I forgot about the horses in the books and lived in cities where I was separated from nature. I became a clinical psychologist and began to truly understand who I was for the first time. I met my husband, we married and began to try to start a family. It didn’t happen. We navigated IVF, the hopes, the excruciatingly painful losses and eventually realised our dreams of becoming parents were not going to come true. And it was then the horses stepped back into my life. We had moved to the country and I had been having some riding lessons at the time. I was a little burnt out at work, and was questioning my career, wanting something different. I found myself drawn back to nature and was considering walking away from my role as a psychologist in order to work with animals in some capacity. In the grief of losing our longed-for babies I had some therapy and spoke about my childhood dreams of magical horses. My therapist told me about equine facilitated psychotherapy and a lady called Linda Kohanov in America.
I immediately bought her books; The Tao of Equus and Riding Between the Worlds. In these books Linda wrote about the bond between human and horse that I had so very much longed for as a child. It seemed to be what I was looking for, a way of being with animals and yet continuing with the career that I loved. I knew that somehow I had to find a way to train with her. And as that decision was made the universe transpired to make it so. Training events appeared at exactly the right time and the right place, including the first international Eponaquest apprenticeship which was to be less than 10 miles away from where I lived. Unexpected money materialised from various sources and I began my training with Eponaquest.
During this journey, within the space of 6 months I also acquired 4 amazing equines. Having never looked after a horse before, this was a steep learning curve. The first of these to come into my life was Jerry. Jerry has been my greatest teacher, he is a true soul friend, as the Celts say, an Anam Cara. The moment I saw him I felt a connection, despite the fact that he was too expensive, too well trained, and too much to handle. He is an ex-racing thoroughbred, altogether the “wrong horse” for a novice rider, yet I knew he was coming home with us. He was angry, flighty and difficult to handle. The first few months with him were incredibly difficult and I often wondered just what had I done bringing this creature into my life. In my search for a way forward I was drawn to the writings and teachings of others who listen to Nature such as Angela Dunning, Elen Sentier, John Matthews and Allan J. Hamilton. I learnt, or rather remembered how to communicate and I began to listen to what this horse had to say. With a patience and openness to listen; with a beginner’s mind, willing to make mistakes but to learn from them; and most of all with the readiness to appear foolish (and sometimes downright crazy) in the eyes of others we began our journey of discovery together.
This has led to the development of my independent therapy practice, named after Jerry, “Northern Meadow” which was his racing name. For me this name embodies his wisdom, as represented by the cardinal point of the North, and his ability to create a sacred place in which one can nurture growth and abundance of spirit. Jerry remains my guide, who walks beside me every day as I follow the path laid out before me. Sometimes I stray, becoming distracted or overburdened by modern day life and perceived importances, but he always leads me back. And for Jerry, he now lives a life where he is not burdened by the pressure of performance or the frustration of humans whom are set on achieving a particular goal. He now has a choice of whether or not to engage in activities; be that riding, therapy or just hanging out.
Through my relationships with Jerry and the other horses and ponies, whom I am honoured to care for, I have rediscovered my spiritual place within Nature. The embodied and grounded teachings from Nature have helped me to survive recent challenging times including loved ones’ serious illness. We are as humans, part of Nature and we need to unlearn our beliefs and behaviours which serve to keep us separate. I believe that if we once again strive to live in harmony with nature we are able to rediscover our authentic power in belonging to a tribe which includes all species. In this way are able to create a space for mutual healing in our interactions with animals, the land around us and ultimately with the planet herself.
Dr Caroline Burrow
What a powerful story you have just shared with us. I am so grateful you have chosen to hold the first EPONA workshop here at our center. Can’t wait to meet you, Anita and your participants.
Two new horses Ayiti and Kadoo just moved in here, and I think they will share some special stories with you all. You will have six strong spirited horses as your co-teachers.
Much sunshine from St. Vincent
The EPONA workshop on the 25th of February, still has a few places – learn more here and book your place with Anita or Cal.