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Not Just Horsin’ Around

Winston Churchill once said, “There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of man.”

Carol Marriot would enthusiastically agree. Ravenheart Farms, her Equine Assisted Learning &Retreat Centre near Humboldt, Saskatchewan is based on the healing, nurturing and teaching power of horses and her care and compassion for her fellow human beings. “My focus is on working with horses and people,” she says.

Marriot is a certified equine assisted learning (EAL) specialist. She earned her certification at the Cartier Learning Centre at Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. She had previously taken classes in the U.S. and at Nanaimo, B.C. but the Cartier Centre is the only place in Canada where this certification is available.

As an EAL specialist Marriot works with individuals and with groups such as the employees of a firm or institution. She designs exercises that provide these groups with a unique interactive experience to learn and fine tune skills that can then be used in the workplace.

Horses are open and transparent. They can sense the frustrations and conflicts human beings sometimes try to hide. The exercises encourage teams to work together to solve problems. Quoting from the Cartier site: “This kind of group interaction while working with horses is a metaphor to the work environment.”

“The fascinating thing is you see what happens in their day-to-day work because as soon as you mix the horses and the people, the horses bring that element of the present moment and another being that doesn’t always co-operate,” Marriot says. “You see who the leader is, who stands back, which ones are the co-operators and which ones are the ones who depend on others to do the work.”

After the exercise there is a debriefing. Each participant is asked — What did they notice? How might this relate to everyday life? Do they recognize patterns in themselves or in their team?

“I love to work with people who are trying to understand how to get along better in the workplace because the horses can help with that,” she says.

Marriot and her six horses also work with young people. “The kids really want to come here. We greet them and have a meal together. Then we work with the horse or play with the horses.”

To help with the work on her farm Marriot offers room and board to volunteers from such organizations as World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF). These workers help with everything from farm chores to building nature trails.

“I’m working toward certification as a personal life coach,” Marriot says. I also do a number of retreats, workshops and such where people can just come out, enjoy nature and view the animals. I do some spiritual workshops, personal growth, spiritual deepening and meditation. And we do a six-week series for art — art classes for beginners — adventures in art at Ravenheart.”

Marriot markets Ravenheart through local advertising, on her website: www.ravenheartfarms.com and on her Facebook page.

Looking to the future, she’d like to build an arena and a space for workshops. “I use my home and it’s great but on the other hand as I grow I’d like to have an inside space for the horses and also for working with people. That’s in the vision,” she says.

ShirleyByerswritesfromKelvington,Sask.

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