Unlike traditional horseback riding lessons that emphasize training and performance, the equine-assisted retreat focuses on discovering the powerful relationship between horse and human. It can help to:
For six years, Ironstone Farm has been offering free retreats to people who have had cancer diagnoses. run by professional facilitators, the equine-assisted therapy programs use the powerful relationship between people and horses to build a renewed sense of self, increase confidence and overcome fears and insecurities.
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Kathy of Massachusetts came to a June 2014 retreat, mostly looking for an unusual experience rather than a life-changing one, she said. She learned about the retreat during an appointment at Dana-Farber.
"I was really picturing a day as fun with horses. I know that's not what the brochure said. I came away with so much more than I ever could have expected. It wasn't about horses. It was about finding your inner strength."
Pat of Lowell attended one of the first retreats at Ironstone Farm. In fact, when Pat, a breast and lung-cancer survivor, came to her retreat she was afraid of horses. She attended the equine encounter based on the recommendation of her Lowell General support-group advisor.
"It was 1,000 times more than I ever expected. I had no clue it would be so wonderful. I felt so clear about myself and my health. I didn't want to leave. By the end it was a whole experience that I could never imagined -- more support and love than I've ever received in my life -- because you went through a whole process."
After the retreat, Pat became one of the 200+ volunteers at Ironstone Farm who help provide therapy to special needs children and others.
Equine Encounter retreats are primarily unmounted programs involving many exercises with and without horses. One exercise may include a mounted session, but an unmounted option is included for those not interested or able to sit astride a horse.
Cancer Retreats are funded through the generosity of the
Boston North Cancer Association and the Virginia Wellington Cabot Foundation.
Ironstone Farm is a working farm. Prior to registering for a retreat, please speak to your doctor if you have concerns regarding exposure to hay, dust, or animal hair/dander.