The Happiness Hub in High Bentham offers holistic therapy for horses
- Credit: Archant
A devastating riding accident may have saved Katherine Beaumont from a life of anxiety and stress. Now she is sharing her experience.
On the face of it, Katherine Beaumont had it all. ‘I was running a successful interiors business in Bentham, had three lovely kids, two horses and a fantastic partner,’ she recalls. ‘But I always seemed to be chasing the next thing.
‘I seemed to work continuously – and life outside that was short bursts of pleasure followed by an empty feeling. I was always trying to fill the void. It was a cycle of work, shopping, social media, alcohol even.
‘On paper, life was great but, like a lot of women running a business, I never really seemed to be enjoying myself. The things I really enjoyed, like riding my horses, were restricted often to just 55 minutes because I had to get back to get on with the next thing.
‘The next moment was always more important than the present. Like many people, I suffered from constant low-level anxiety; that fear of failure that drives us on.’
It was a lifestyle that was destined to end badly but, perhaps, not in the way you might think. ‘Four years ago one of my horses crushed me,’ she says. ‘It literally sat on me. My pelvis was broken in four places. Before, I was terrified of stopping for a moment but after the accident I couldn’t walk.’
But rather than ruining her life, the accident may well have saved it. ‘My world didn’t fall apart. I had more time for my kids and I wrapped up a business that wasn’t making me happy.’
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Part of the healing process involved Katherine learning meditation techniques and one day she decided to meditate in the horse paddock.
‘Suddenly, the horses came across and laid down with me and they appeared sleepy.
‘It was amazing – I was humbled and overwhelmed by what then developed into a new and very different relationship with my horses,’ said Katherine, who was brought up in Silverdale.
‘I came to the conclusion that previously when I had been riding them they had actually been frightened of me and that was probably why I was crushed. They sensed my stress and that affected them.’
Katherine, who is 42, spent some time online and discovered that this form of meditation with horses was a popular technique in California. She delved more deeply into the subject. ‘A year after the accident I decided I needed to do something with this. I wanted to share it.’
She set up The Happiness Hub in High Bentham providing a range of treatments, classes and retreats mainly based around horses. ‘We provide workshops with animals, foraging, ecotherapy, cold water therapy, sound therapy, traditional yoga and meditation which explores ancient teachings.
‘We also teach classes in the studio, by the river, in our wildflower meadow and in natural places of beauty.’ However, horse meditation is particularly popular.
‘Horses are excellent meditation teachers. They mirror our emotions and give us instant feedback. Horses sync their central nervous systems in order to survive in herds. Their regulated, more coherent central nervous system will always entertain a weaker, more chaotic one. In other words a relaxed horse will bring us into greater coherence and a profound sense of wellbeing. We crave peace of mind and so do horses. Horses speak to us emotionally, viscerally.
‘It’s very good for people with anxiety or depression, people who are stressed. We have helped people with mental health issues and we have become popular with young women who are feeling the pressures of life. People gain a sense of peace when they come here. Some will say it’s a crazy thing to do, but it works.’
There was a time, after long and arduous days at work, Katherine and Philip used to make what they called ‘life maps’ – the routes they’d really like their lives to follow. Eventually, Philip sold his business to join his wife at the Happiness Hub so it looks like they’re well on with their own journey towards contentment.
Looking back on her old life, Katherine says: ‘People don’t connect with nature by unleashing the power of profit confined inside concrete walls. Sometimes you need to walk barefoot in the grass.’