After Ulrike Spitzer made a plea for help feeding her two out-of-work therapy horses during the pandemic shutdown, it only took three days before they were set up with enough to tide them over for two months.
Along with many of their two-legged counterparts in the spiritual and physical wellness field, Spitzer’s two full-time therapy horses Florita and Shoko were unable to practice their craft due to the fear around virus transmission.
Spitzer decided to temporarily close Kaleidoscope Healing, her Hope-based equine healing practice, and around the same time was forced to stop her massage practice at the Healing Den in Hope as a public health order closed down any personal service businesses. She found herself unable to both cover her own needs and those of her horses.
Hoping to get some help to purchase feed to tide Florita and Shoko over during the worst of the pandemic, she wrote up a request written in the first person – straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. She hoped to get enough funding or in-kind donations for a month.
“If you still have an income at this time and if you find it in your heart to support us we would be really grateful, if you sent her a donation,” the appeal Spitzer put out read. “Any amount no matter how small will help keep our tummies full.” Each horse’s history and personality was also described, including 31-year-old Florita’s penchant for helping women and the nifty therapy boots she wears in her old age.
Shoko, 18, is Florita’s daughter and a survivor of a bad accident that led the way for Spitzer to begin doing the healing work she calls ‘equine guided learning’ or ‘equine facilitated wellness.’ “I enjoy working with men, women, and children. It doesn’t matter what their issues are, I always find an answer for them,” Shoko ‘said.’
Three days after she posted the appeal, Spitzer had enough for two months of feed for her four-legged healers. “I was just blown away. I thought I’d get the odd person giving me five bucks or ten bucks, no, people were donating a lot of money,” she said. “Within three days I exceeded my goal.”
Some donors were close friends, others had taken part in equine healing with Ulrike and the horses, and others are complete strangers.
Easing out of self-isolation, with horses
As the B.C. government is preparing to enter recover mode in its pandemic response, Spitzer is preparing to offer equine facilitated wellness for people impacted by self-isolation.
“I see and sense so much fear and suffering from isolation—especially among those who live alone and have nobody to hug, or single parents who are overwhelmed with home-schooling and entertaining stir-crazy kids,” she said.
Regular counselling sessions with the horses won’t return until June. Until then Spitzer is offering one person at a time, with the option to bring along another person from their ‘bubble’, to ‘Hug a horse’ while maintaining physical distancing and hygiene recommendations. The cost is $20 per person, or $30 for two. Funds, Spitzer said, go to purchasing hay for Shoko and Florita.
For parents with children, Ulrike is offering childen to come hang out with the horses and learn how to be safe and interact with them. Three children at a time can visit an learn to put a halter on, lead and and groom a horse, at $20 per child per visit.
“(These visits are) perfectly safe…because they don’t need to interact with me, other than they have to sign a waiver form. And I can disinfect the pen,” Spitzer said. “So, yes, people could come out, there’s nothing that speaks against it, it’s not forbidden.”
Spitzer is also designing a retreat with Christine Zyla, a Hope-based Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) tapping practitioner, to help release the heavy emotions built up over the past few months of the pandemic.
It’s also about looking at what people have learned during this time, what is their takeaway from it and what are their next steps in their lives.
“For each and every one of us the lesson will be different, and then on a larger level what do we learn as a society, what do we learn on a global level. So there are many, many levels of learning going on right now,” she said.
“For some people it is, they can work from home. For some people it is, ‘I want to spend more time with my family, this is actually pretty awesome.’ Other people are learning, ‘I can’t work from home, I want to be outdoors, outside with people.’”
The first retreat is June 27.