The first time I looked out across the valley in which my home nestles, the idea for a special kind of retreat took seed. I had already viewed well over 40 properties, and was on the verge of giving up my search. So when this moment came, this ‘yes!’, I was relieved as well as excited. I couldn’t quite put my finger on exactly what I loved about the place – perhaps it was the rolling landscape, the mature trees and coppice which lined the paddocks, the way the land sloped to a small stream, or the 1950’s cow shed and hay barn which were quirky but would make perfect accommodation for the horses. Or perhaps it was quite simply how this place made me feel: tranquil, peaceful, close to nature, quietly joyful. The property had two small gites which could be let as holiday accommodation. I hadn’t really wanted a property with ancillary accommodation due to the expense of maintaining a lot of buildings, but they were utterly delightful and opened a small window of possibility.
In my first book I’d written about falling under The Spell of the Horse and the healing and discovery which is possible once connected with that magic. Having this residential accommodation would enable me to offer a fully immersive opportunity for visitors to not only work developmentally with my herd, but live alongside them and amongst them in this beautiful corner of the world.
The ethos of the Spell of the Horse Retreat is self-discovery, self care and care of the herd both horse and human. On a practical level this meant that, outside of the sessions, the group of three cooked together, having shopped for food and provisions in the colourful local market. They cleaned the barn, filled hay nets and foraged for wild herbs and grasses for the horses. I had been clear from the outset that this was a co-created experience, there was an emphasis on interconnection with each other, with our surroundings, with the natural environment around us. The outcome of the process was our shared responsibility. Having said that I was a little nervous about how it would all work out, there being so many variables. I need not have worried. I’m sharing some of the feedback received from the group.
‘It was magical to be on Pam’s quintessentially French countryside property, it also transformed who I am today.‘
‘I loved the connection I had with the horse herd, but what really blew me away was that I also found my heart deeply connecting with my human herd too. I uncovered parts of me that had eluded me for years. The Spell of the Horse Retreat has awoken my joie de vivre.’
‘The herd’s generosity of spirit and kindness as well as their capacity to be in the moment was really beyond anything I had imagined… It felt good to be experiencing kindness, warmth and to nurture ourselves and others. I loved the spaciousness, mindfulness and peace of our morning and evening routines as we picked up horse poo and filled their haynets. I continue to bring this mindfulness and pleasure to the daily routines of my life.’
‘The whole time with you and the herd was a rich and powerful experience. I was profoundly moved by my session with you, Winnie and Ruby. The way that you guided us to really engage in and feel our own embodied experience in relation to each other – with no interpretation – was so good. No words can suffice – and as far as I’m concerned that is a good thing because I continue to carry it all in my body and my heart.’
‘Since France I have a deeper expanse of resource to pull upon somehow. Pam and the herd provided me with an extremely safe place where I could explore information about myself that felt new to my consciousness. Connection to my own intuition allows me to make better sense of what is happening around me. I’d define the retreat with the words: friends, energy, herd, tribe, support, love, acceptance, kindness, generosity, communication, sharing, caring, love. It felt like home.’
And for me too, the retreat was a deeply enriching experience for me. It shifted my understanding and consciousness and contributed to my own healing. I enjoyed the abundance of laughter, presence and inspiration which each of the group brought. And, not least of all, seeing a dream come to fruition in this way, was cause for much celebration.
If you would like to participate in the 2023 retreat I will be setting dates soon, and will publicise them as soon as I do via my newsletter.