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Connection the key to community wellness.

“…you can sit with that animal, and just be you.”

AJ Single – Concise Equestrian Centre

Information Links

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ConciseEquestrianCentre/

Website: https://conciseequestriancentre.com.au/

Let’s talk to the animals

Special video CLICK HERE

Leanne:

So, here I am at Concise, and we’re going to be talking with AJ, and we’re going to talk about the connection that people can have for their mental wellbeing, through animals. We’re already calm, aren’t we? Standing here and sitting here with Jack.

AJ:

Calm and happy probably is the best description that we could have.

Leanne:

Yeah. Do you find that with most people when they get around animals?

AJ:

I do. I really do.

Leanne:

Yeah. So, tell us a little bit about Jack.

AJ:

Jack’s a new member here. He’s actually not one of mine. He is owned by one of my beautiful ladies, that have just joined us, here at Concise. He’s a very curious baby, and he likes to be your friend, as you can see.

Leanne:

So, you find lots of people wanting to come down here and pat the horses and ride the horses? Hello, darling. Yes. Aren’t you gorgeous? Do you want to say something too? Want to tell everyone how special it is to be with you? Yes.

Leanne:

So, when they come down to visit, what things do you think that happens to them, in their mental wellbeing, when they’re here with the animals? And the horses in particular?

AJ:

There are so many benefits to getting out of the city, into the countryside, so to speak, that you just get to start to chill, the noise disappears. You get to go and say “Hi” to the horses and dog, which is about to join us. Come here.

Leanne:

Come on, come on, darling.

AJ:

He’s a little bit of a team member around here. All the kids love to see him. And somewhere there’s a kitty cat. Everyone gets to be exposed by a variety of animals, and if they have an issue, we make sure, say, the dog isn’t about at that time. I just need to know. Just going for a walk, and being able to chill and slow down, and just ground yourself again, is really important.

Leanne:

I did some work with some Vets that have got dogs, especially for PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder.

It seems to bring this calmness to them, that often when people are talking at them, all that, but when they connect with an animal, they must… How do people feel when they connect with an animal?

AJ:

I think the big thing for the connection with mental health, and humans and animals, is really the fact that you can sit with that animal, and just be you. There’s no judgment. They react to how we’re feeling. So, sometimes they’ll be in your face, and other times they’ll be happy to go and chill out, because they know you’re nice and calm at the same time too. Some of the horses around here will really annoy you, even nudge you, to get your attention, to start paying attention to them. That diversion, for a person, can bring them back around, and start to take away the emotion that they are owning, and disconnect that bit, and start paying attention to some of their surroundings, and what’s going on around them. I think that’s a big thing, with animals being connected in therapy these days for people.

Leanne:

Yeah. And I think that what happens is that, it is having that moment, that breather. Whatever you’ve got going on in your life that may not be in a positive direction… It’s like this nagging monkey sitting there, going “Yak, yak, yak, yak.” And it’s people finding different ways to stop that yakking monkey. Like I tell people, “I’ve got five monkeys in my head. One of them plays the bongos. Some days I just want that bongo drum to just steady down and be a nice beat. But it’s gone into one of those crazy ones, past reggae, right into a heavy rap one, which is something I don’t handle very well.” And they need to find some type of tool to calm that monkey.

Leanne:

There’s different things for different people, but often it seems to be these connections with animals, whether it’s birds, even a goldfish. Watching a fish swim…

But I know when I came out here the other day, we were talking about how animals connect with your feelings. We were talking about a young lad, that was sometimes not understanding that he can be cranky and stubborn. And the horse?

AJ:

Just stubborn to match that attitude. That’s exactly right.

They have, especially horses in particular I find, more so than actual dogs, they have a way of mirroring our personalities, and our feelings at the time.

So, if someone is really standoffish, you quite often, will find that the horse will mirror that emotion and feeling, because they own them so much, that you get a very particular response than what you would out of a dog or a cat, so to speak. So, what these guys can actually teach us about ourselves, that’s my fault, can be huge.

Leanne:

So, if someone’s there, and they might have a family member, and they’re finding it very difficult to connect with their own feelings. Would you suggest that maybe they would come and start connecting with horses? They don’t have to jump on their back and ride off into the sunset on the first day, but could it be really beneficial for the family member to connect with the horse, because they might start to understand their own feelings? Everyone’s saying, “You should… This is what you’re feeling. And you’re really annoying because you’re being stubborn and angry.” But sometimes you don’t actually think that about yourself, where the horse could help with that understanding.

AJ:

That’s exactly right. The beauty about here is, we do have a lot of different programs that have come to fruition, over time. To really support different people from different backgrounds. We do have people that come out and participate in programs which are specifically designed to be around the horses, without actually having to ride. Because they might find that the horse is a bit too big for them, or they’re not quite sure about the noises that they make, or those sorts of things. They might not like to put their hands around their mouth. It doesn’t worry me with this guy, but we have a special feeding tool that we use here, so that you can actually still go for a walk, and give him a feed, without putting your hand so close. It makes people feel comfortable.

Leanne:

For those that are listening on our podcast, you’re going to have to check out the video that’s going to be on the blog as well, because you wouldn’t know that Jack was being very friendly there, and giving us a lovely little nibble here and there. He was very sure that the microphone might’ve been one of those nice little tasty snacks, but it didn’t quite feel right. So now he’s moved on, to go and see if someone else has got a snack.

Leanne:

So, when we talk about that connection between animals and human beings, it’s like from the year dot, when there was human beings and animals. We look at different ways that people have domesticated animals, or just hung with animals, and been with them. It seems like it’s not really a new thing, but it seems like a new thing to start connecting people back with animals.

AJ:

Yeah, it is being revisited. But also, the way we connect has changed a lot, from an industry perspective, over the years. We look at a lot kinder horsemanship approach. It’s not so much you have to break their spirit anymore. It’s very important that we actually protect that, so that they can shine through with their personalities that reflect ours. Because that’s what makes the connection so special now. But once upon a time, a horse might’ve been put through a really fast breaking process, so to speak, in those days, we would term that as. And giving them a broken spirit, that sort of horse training is fairly non-existent, thankfully, for the horse at the same time. So, we get these huge personalities, and very friendly nature at the same time from them. They’re much more curious animals than standing back, waiting to be told what to do. They want to participate in what’s happening, which then makes the people participate in what’s going on around them.

Leanne:

Well, I have to say, this is a delightful way. Normally I Zoom in to people, and interview them. But why would you Zoom when you could come and see some beautiful, beautiful landscape, and meet some beautiful animals? I’m going to put the microphone away now, because I want to connect with this animal. Jack is just absolutely gorgeous. Brett dropped in, and Ros a minute ago, to say, hello to Jack, because Jack needs a lot of us to give him a pat.

AJ:

Well, he is a baby. He’s actually not had any training at all yet. So, for him to be this curious and happy around humans is huge. Then the other thing that’s really important to mention, while we’re having a quick chat is, they’re not all as big as Jack. I do have some really little ones too. So, if size is a problem, that doesn’t matter around here.

Leanne:

We’ll take some video and we’ll show it to you. Thank you everyone. Thank you AJ, for letting us come and chat to you.

AJ:

You’re more than welcome.

Leanne:

And thank you, Jack, you did a great job.

Now its time for a walk around.