Medicine and Horsemanship: Transforming the Doctor-Patient Relationship

We’re pleased to announce that in June, 2015, The Mane Intent will be collaborating with FEEL facilitator Susan Andison of Pheonix Acres and Laurie Smith, Physician Recruiter with Campbellford Memorial Hospital and the Trent Hills Physician Recruitment and Retention Committee to pilot a unique, two-day workshop called Medicine and Horsemanship: Transforming the Doctor-Patient Relationship. The workshop is targeting health care students and professionals who are working, visiting or completing medical education in Northumberland County including: Medical Students, Resident Physicians, Physicians, and Allied Health Professionals.

This program is the first of its kind offered in this area and is based on a program developed by Beverley Kane, M.D. of Stanford Medical School’s Medicine and Horsemanship Program. This is a unique opportunity for participants to develop greater awareness of the subtleties of self-presentation and communication necessary for provider-patient relationships and other professional interactions. By working in partnership with the herd at Phoenix Acres and participating in ground work with the horses, participants will:

  • Become aware of subtleties of verbal and non-verbal communication
  • Improve attention, mindfulness, and focusing abilities
  • Become aware of congruency of intention versus behavior
  • Identify and respect boundaries in ourselves and others
  • Recognize the nature and projection of transference
  • Develop confidence and cope with stress, and
  • Ultimately enhance the doctor/patient relationship.

In many parts of North America, horses are working their magic in medicine and patient care. This concept of bringing together Medicine and Horsemanship began at the University of Arizona in 2001. It was conceived and taught by Professor of Neurosurgery, owner of Rancho Bosque, and Parelli Natural Horsemanship practitioner, Allan Hamilton, M.D. He has also written several books including Zen Mind…Zen Horse.

“Whenever doctors are interacting with a patient, doing uncomfortable invasive things or having to impart bad news, we really need to have the patient’s trust. This is exactly the point of the work with horses, because the handlers need to use gentle, non-verbal cues to persuade the horse what to do. The horse gains the trust and becomes a willing partner. This is exactly what we need patients to do – to join us in the healing effort rather than being afraid of what we are doing to them. With patients, like with horses, it is up to the doctor to figure out what works best with each,” writes Dr. Hamilton.

Photos courtesy of Beverley Kane, M.D., Manual of Medicine and Horsemanship

Photos courtesy of Beverley Kane, M.D., Manual of Medicine and Horsemanship

“A major challenge for health care providers throughout our careers is to conduct our relationships with patients, colleagues, ‘supervisors’, and employees in a manner that is professional, sensitive, perceptive, confident and authentic. Especially with regard to patients, our conduct must be characterized by compassion and respect,” says Beverley Kane, M.D., of Stanford University Medical School’s Medicine and Horsemanship Program.

Building on the founding principles of Medicine and Horsemanship, our intent is to help health care students and practitioners develop an awareness of the subtleties of self-presentation and communication necessary for the provider-patient relationships and other professional interactions,” says Jennifer Garland, Owner/Program Director for The Mane Intent.

Watch this interview with Dr. Allan Hamilton on how horses are connecting people to possibility in the medical community:

For details on the Trent Hills Medicine and Horsemanship Program, please contact: Laurie Smith, Physician Liaison/Physician ER Scheduling,  Campbellford Memorial Hospital/Trent Hills Physician Recruitment & Retention Committee at or visit

 About the Program Facilitators

 Jennifer Garland is the Owner/Program Director of The Mane Intent (, connecting people to possibility through horse power using facilitated equine experiential learning. Jennifer is also President of The Cactus Group, a management and communications consulting business. She has over 25 years of leadership experience in communications, marketing and change management supporting a variety of health care clients including hospitals, nursing homes, non-profits and community service providers. She has provided counsel and support to senior leaders from all walks of life to create opportunities to build productive relationships, facilitate learning and to embrace change. Jennifer has facilitated strategic planning retreats and team building events for groups of up to 300 participants. She is a published author and her story is included in a book called “Healing With Horses: Growth and Transformation through the Way of the Horse.

Susan Andison is the Owner/Operator of Phoenix Acres (, offering an experience where you can enjoy the transformative power of the horses as teachers. Phoenix Acres environment allows you to embrace learning in a safe and encouraging atmosphere whether it is to develop personally or professionally. Susan has over 20 years in healthcare, corporate learning and management. She has provided personal and professional coaching, organized international conferences and facilitated workshops enabling professional growth utilizing Jungian typology. Her many years of volunteer support working with children and seniors have afforded her experiences that strengthened her both personally and professionally. She brings her love for horses and people, her certification in equine facilitated learning, and a desire to help people discover and embrace their inner strengths.



The Mane Intent

January 14, 2015

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