Centre Recognizes Power Horses Have for Healing
By Jacquie Bergerman
Humboldt Journal staff writer
In November of 2006, Carol Marriott purchased a five-bedroom farm-house on 20 acres near Fulda, 15 minutes north of Humboldt. It was here she established Ravenheart Farms Equine-Assisted Learning Centre & Retreat. (Ravenheart moved location to the Kamsack, SK area in Oct. 2011).
The centre is focused on working with people and horses to “recognize the power horses have for healing,” Marriott stated. Ravenheart Farms is a place where “people can come and reconnect back to themselves, whatever that looks like.” The centre is a place of healing, of getting away from the busy pace of everyday life to re-focus and re-centre. “It is a place where people can find peace, insight, quiet, and healing” and it is dedicated to using a “natural horsemanship approach with respect for the animals,” said Marriott.
Equine-Assisted Learning (EAL) is a process where horses are engaged in promoting personal growth and emotional healing. Horses are acutely turned in with their surroundings and are able to react to or mirror body language. This biofeedback can teach participants about their strengths and help identify challenges.
To become a certified EAL Specialist, Marriott trained at the Cartier Equine Learning Centre, located north of Prince Albert. All of the structured exercises Marriott does with horses and participants are conducted from the ground – no riding is involved. Each exercise is a practical experience. As a participant works through an exercise with a horse, Marriott decodes the feedback from the horse. After the exercise is over, Marriott debriefs the participant to discuss relevant emotions and behaviours.
Marriott’s EAL programs address anger, stress, self-confidence, communication skills, relationship issues, and emotional and behavioural challenges. “The connection to healing is so strong,” she said. Aside from EAL programs, Marriott also designs personalized retreats for individuals, couples, or groups of any age. She designs and instructs activities like expressive art, meditation, yoga, and personal growth exercises to promote healing and self-growth.
Marriott is not a counsellor and does not provide therapy in the traditional sense. However, she is a trained EAL Specialist and can offer insight based on equine bio-feedback.
Marriott’s first retreat at Ravenheart Farms took place last fall. Led by Marriott and Patrick Harbula, 12 people attended the “Primal Fire” workshop. Since then, Marriott has done a series of monthly one-day retreats with four to five people attending each session.
The retreats are “for people who are looking to learn more about themselves, who are on a journey of personal growth.”
Marriott loves working with at-risk youth, adults, and couples. “The kids are so engaged, so focused,” she stated. She also does corporate team building and leadership retreats.
Marriott grew up in Montreal and began riding horses at age 18. While riding for the first time in her life, Marriott said she felt “very focused. Being around horses, I could let everything go.”
Marriott later moved to Calgary and began working at Spruce Meadows. “This was my dream job,” she noted. Marriott became the Media and Public Relations Coordinator for Spruce Meadows and remained there for eight years.
Marriott also worked at the Calgary Humane Society. While there, she came into contact with trainers who treated horses in a new, gentler way. This natural horsemanship approach intrigued her. Marriott was 40 years old and living in Calgary when she bought her first horse, Raven. This special horse is the namesake of Ravenheart Farms and has been a “wise guide” said Marriott. Over the past 12 years, Marriott’s sister and parents moved to Saskatchewan, so she began travelling to the province to visit her family. She fell in love with this area and wanted to start a business here that incorporated her love of horses. When Marriott found the acreage near Fulda, she knew she was making the right move.
Marriott has found the Humboldt area to be very receptive. “This is a progressive community” she stated. “There is a deep-seated spirituality here.”
Outdoors, Marriott’s farm has trails where guests can go for peaceful walks. She’s working hard to create a park-like atmosphere and commented, “It’s about resting your mind from the hectic pace of life.”
Reprinted from the Humboldt Journal 2008