When you think about therapy animals, it’s probably dogs that come to mind. But the John Howard Society of Northern BC is thinking bigger. This weekend, they’re offering a free equine therapy workshop to women who have experienced domestic violence.

“Working with horses can be very empowering,” says Lisa Loewen, the Anger Management and Family Violence Prevention Facilitator with the Society. “Because horses are an animal of prey, they’re constantly on guard and vigilant. They know and have experienced trauma in their lives and operate from a place of ‘Is that thing going to hurt me? Is that thing going to eat me?’ And one thing with women who have experienced domestic violence is they have a tendency to be on guard, to be vigilant, to be wary of what is safe and what is not safe. And so we wanted to partner the two.”

Lisa Loewen with therapy horse, Smokie

Lisa Loewen with therapy horse, Smokie

Loewen is also an equine facilitated wellness practitioner and will host the workshop at equestrian centre in Cranbrooke Hill.

“We do mindfulness exercises. We do grooming and self-care exercises. We do communication exercises and a lot of journalling exercises. It’s a catered event, it’s free for women so what women need to do is bring themselves and close-toed shoes.”

The event takes place from 10am until 3pm on Saturday, July 9. There will be another event on August 27. There are only 8 spots in the session and Loewen says women interested in participating are encouraged to pre-register. She says there are a few reasons to attend.

“One is to build confidence. Another is to build mindfulness and another is to build stronger self-awareness and realizing that, in that group experience, they’re not alone.”

Loewen says there is another reason she and the Society are organizing the workshop.

“John Howard…it’s more seen by the public that we’re connected with men. This seemed like a good opportunity to bring more awareness to the fact that we work with women and that we want to be on the cutting edge of therapeutic opportunities.”

For more information, you can visit the event page on Facebook.