Bellwood Partnership: Equine Support for Post-Trauma Growth

“It is amazing to see clients transform with the herd at The Mane Intent. Clients are so involved in the process and are so touched by their interaction with their equine partners, getting in touch with long lost emotions such as joy, care and hope. It is really profound to witness and experience. Facilitators at The Mane Intent are fabulous and are so inviting we felt instantly at home at Renegade Ridge Farm. The farm offers a very calming, safe setting for clients to explore what’s possible on their recovery journey, while connecting with horses and nature.” — Michael Hartmann, Former Clinical Manager, PTSD and Trauma Services, Bellwood Health Services.

“The Mane Intent is a game changing experience. The horses and facilitators allowed me to move to a safe place.” — Bellwood Health Services PTSD/Addictions Program Client and participant in Equine Support for Post-Trauma Growth Workshop at The Mane Intent.

From 2015 to 2019, The Mane Intent partnered with Bellwood Health Services to offer a unique, one-day equine experiential learning workshop for Bellwood’s Addiction & Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder/OSI Treatment Program clients. Working together with our herd and participating in a series of facilitated experiential learning activities, participants explored what’s possible on their journey to Post-Trauma Growth.

Painting by program participant.

Bellwood is an international leader in addiction treatment with over 30 years of experience and is a preferred provider of the Canadian Forces and Veteran’s Affairs Canada for the concurrent treatment of Addiction and PTSD since 2005. The Bellwood Program is designed specifically for the treatment of PTSD and/or operational stress injury. Their program recognizes that the dual diagnosis of PTSD and substance abuse requires a specialized and concurrent treatment approach to maximize the potential for a successful recovery. Bellwood’s program addresses the trauma and addiction at the same time — an integrated approach recommended as a best practice by Health Canada. Program participants typically included members of the military, veterans, RCMP members or first responders seeking to recover from these dual challenges and reclaim their life.

The Mane Intent offered program participants a day of experiential learning working with horses as natural coaches. By engaging in ground work with horses in a controlled setting, participants learned how their attitude, body language and intent impact relationships and the world around us. By working in partnership with our horses as teachers and facilitators of change, participants learned to:

  • Become aware of subtleties of verbal and non-verbal communication
  • Improve attention, mindfulness and focusing abilities
  • Recognize the value of self-care, while enjoying the calming presence of our herd
  • Become aware of incongruence of intention versus behaviour
  • Identify and respond boundaries with ourselves and with others
  • Identify opportunities to achieve a shared vision for recovery and post traumatic growth