Learn to rein in your mind

Annie Hamer has found renewed purpose through her equine assisted learning enterprise. (Gerard Warrener) 255703_01

By Oliver Lees

On a 20 acre property in Woodend, Annie Hamer is putting her horses to good use.

Earlier this month Annie and her husband Mike launched Hamer Equine Assisted Learning (H.E.A.L), an enterprise that has allowed them to marry their interests of horses and helping others.

The timing was perfect for Annie, who, as well as being a self-confessed horse lover, had just recently resigned from her job during the pandemic.

H.E.A.L is one of a growing number of businesses providing equine therapy to people of all ages. Through tailored programs, clients are encouraged to build a relationship with their horse counterpart as a means of helping their own wellbeing.

Annie and Mike have been able to draw on their experience working with P.S. My Family Matters, a charitable organisation designed to provide support to carers of people with mental illness.

Annie said the practice is grounded in helping people build mindfulness into their everyday lives.

“We help people move out of autopilot and into greater awareness,” Annie said.

“We make people totally aware of their body, their feelings, and through that awareness, positive change can come about.

“Horses are perfect for this because they are non-judgmental and non-verbal. A lot of people who come here mention it is a lot better than therapy, because it isn’t somebody sitting opposite you in a chair like an interrogation.

“A horse is completely honest in conveying many emotions like humans, but they lack the less helpful emotions of shame, disgust and regret that we carry with us.

“You know that they are being totally honest with you and they accept you as you are.”

H.E.A.L offers programs to help clients work through issues from everyday social anxiety, to more complex matters including bipolar and suicidal ideation.

Having spent her whole life around horses, Annie said she could attest to the value of spending more time in their company.

“I love being with horses and seeing how they interact with the participants, we believe that change can only come about through experiences , not through talking,” she said.

“I can’t fix their problem, but the horses can create a safe environment in which they can discover new ways of thinking and improve their daily life.”

Details: Annie: 0411 549 562.