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The Healing Power of Horses

Horses and humans have shared their lives and worked together for thousands of years, such sentient creatures they greatly enrich the lives of humanity.  It’s amazing that these huge, majestic animals, have such gentle natures, and can do so much for human mind, body and spirit. They are intelligent, deeply sensitive and intuitive, and read human emotions well. Somehow they seem to reach deep into human heart and soul creating a sense of peace.  Horses heal humans.  Similarly, some humans have an innate ability to help and heal horses when they have endured trauma in their lives, so this can be a reciprocal process too, together we can heal and thrive. 

Many believe the number 11 to be associated with healing, and whatever we may think of that idea, it is our 11th year (our 3rd at Westpoint), and quite by chance, a theme of healing just happened this year!  Being Mental Health Awareness Week, here's a look at how we're incorporating this as a concept this year at the Festival.   

Healing Performances

Horses, art and inspiration - what a joy!  A combination that can transport and transform us.

One of the stars of the show Alizée Froment has a breathtaking performance where she wears huge wings, the dreamlike feel of angelic power is something truly spectacular to behold with her horse bridleless and performing all the movements of a Grand Prix Dressage test.

Silke Vallentin, the sensational horsewoman who has achieved the extraordinary despite being confined to a wheelchair following a motorbike accident as a young woman. will perform in the evening shows and matinee with Spanish horse Viento.  Silke's story, inspiration and teachings give us all hope and healing and teach us about of resilience and overcoming the odds.

These two women alongside Córdoba Ecuestre and many other stars, together will give the entire audience an immersive experience that will bring joy to the heart.  You can also look forward to the healing sound of Fado from Portugal with Claudia Aurora, and soul stirring performances from Rebeca Ortega one of Spain's most incredible flamenco dancers. Music engages mind, body, and spirit and adds a powerful and profound element to the performances with the horses.

For many, horses give a sense of spiritual renewal. A shared experience seeing such unique individuals and their horses bonded in mutual trust and partnership has huge healing potential for us all. For a few hours you can forget all your stresses and worries, experience shared joy and can head home feeling uplifted and enriched by a profound and meaningful human experience. Alizée will also lead a masterclass on Thursday afternoon in the indoor arena, and Silke will run masterclasses outdoors every day.  Interviews with them will be available soon.

Healing Meetings

It’s an immersive Iberian experience! The Iberian horse is especially sensitive and expressive and has so much capacity to bring joy and healing to us all.    Throughout the Festival, there are lots of opportunities to meet the horses. At set times in the day, you’ll be able to meet horses competing in daytime events at the show, the PREs (the horse of Spain), the Lusitanos (the horse of Portugal), the black horses from Menorca (PRMe) and the Rocky Mountain Horses.  And you can even meet the Clovelly Donkeys - in Córdoba especially you see a lot of mules and donkeys so we are delighted they are joining us, donkeys are very accepting, gentle and quiet souls and many with mental health issues find them incredibly soothing. We also have some non Iberians on site for you to meet - the gorgeous cob Huckleberry Pie, and Cobs and Carriages once again taking people on riders around the beautiful grounds of Westpoint.  After the main shows, some of the horses from the Royal Stables of Córdoba will come out onto La Plaza to meet the crowds.  There is nothing so soul filling as seeing these magnificent horses up close, looking deep in their eyes, feeling their gentle breath, and touching those beautiful noses. 

The Healing Zone

There are many organisations now using horses to create healing in action, and we are pleased to have a variety of different therapies on show at the Festival. More and more evidence shows the massive impact horses can have on human health.  Horses can do so much to promote physical, emotional, and psychological well-being.  This year we will place all of horse and human healing based organisations in a “Healing Zone” to include a quiet place for anyone who may need it.

We are very proud to be bringing the renowned Horse Boy to this years festival.  World famous author and researcher, Rupert Isaacson has designed a science based programme which is an effective approach for autism and other neuro-psychiatric conditions.  Rupert is a huge advocate of the Iberian horse using them extensively in this work, so we are delighted that he will be  leading masterclasses every day at the Festival and will be available to meet throughout.  As well as helping people, they help horses using the basic rules of collection according to the Old Masters -  La Gueriniere, Oliviera, and Steinbrecht approaches.  We had large numbers of autistic children with us last year, and look forward to learning more with Rupert about his work.  If autism affects anyone in your family and you require seats that allow you to quikcly visit the queit areas, please of course let us know. https://horseboymethod.com

Equine-Connect this Cornwall based organisation provide assisted therapy to vulnerable individuals through interaction with horses. Equine assisted therapy is here to help people with mental health issues, trauma or post-traumatic stress disorder and those with other additional needs.  As Spanish horse owners themselves, they love the Festival, come and meet them and find out more about their various clinics and guided mental well-being walks with horses.  https://equine-connect.co.uk

A new charity, Devon Healing Horsemanship will be with us for the first time.  Created by one of our volunteers Louise Broadway who is a truly passionate and caring individual, we are extremely happy to support this new organisation in any way we can.  They provide an equine assisted programme that allows us to shape difficult behaviours of those who struggle with mainstream talk-based services. Our aim is to support our beneficiaries with any problematic behaviours; to improve the way they see themself; and help them enjoy learning so they find it easier to engage with work, school or training. https://devonhh.org.uk

The Riding for the Disabled (RDA) Exeter Group provides free, safe riding facilities for children with disabilities in and around Exeter, giving them the opportunity to take part in an activity that their more able-bodied peers may take for granted.  They were formed in June 1966 and are one of the longest running RDA groups in the UK, celebrating their 50th year in 2016.   The experience of riding helps the children physically in terms of their balance, posture and muscle strength but also socially as they engage with other riders, volunteers and the horses. The weekly sessions provide an opportunity for therapy to be mixed with fun and a sense of achievement to help young people with disabilities with the everyday activities of their life outside the riding environment. https://www.exeterridingforthedisabled.co.uk

Exeter RDA were with us last year and made many new friends Iincluding the Rocky Mountain horses from Cornmill Stud - these gaited horses have a unique action that makes them especially suited for some people with physical issues. Marie Brittendon will be with us again this year for you to meet and view these wonderful horses that interestingly have huge Spanish heritage. https://www.cornmillstud.com

Healing for Horses

Equine Touch will be with us once again. Their Mission is Helping Horses by Educating Humans. They have created an effective and powerful technique that is easy to learn and does not require long term study, yet which still opens the door to knowledge. The Equine Touch is a non-diagnostic, non-invasive Equine Bodywork system which is an holistic soft tissue address, effecting mostly connective tissue – muscles and tendons, joint capsules and ligaments using a very specific move. https://www.equinetouchuk.com

And finally with an array of masterclasses all day every day with classical and natural horsemanship trainers, there's so many ways to learn about how we can all work in kinder and more harmonious ways with horses. See the current list of Masterclasses here


Because last year saw four sold out shows, make sure you secure your tickets for the Festival of the Iberian Horse. Click here to visit the Box Office

If you’re coming for the evening shows or Sunday matinee, you can add a daytime ticket and save £5 per person.


If you're a horse or human therapist are interested in being part of the Healing Zone, please take a look at the Trader Page