‘I was like a stone with no emotion’: rider who was ‘healed by horses’ hopes now to help others

  • A rider who credits horses for “healing her heart” when she had post-natal depression hopes now to help horses, and people, in her turn.

    Grace Olson has written a book about her experiences, which she hopes will not only benefit others but also raise funds for equine rescue centre Hope Pastures.

    She told H&H she works with people who have serious illnesses; offering massage, healing and coaching. But when the first Covid lockdown was brought in, she could not work.

    “I’d always wanted to write so I wrote a short episode on a horsey Facebook group and it got so many likes, I set up a page,” she said. “It became popular so I set up a website, and someone said ‘Why don’t you write it as a book?’ I thought ‘Go on then’!

    “It brought a bit of joy to people; I wrote an episode a week during lockdown and people were emailing to say it made them laugh, and carry on. And it made me carry on, to think people were enjoying it.”

    Grace had a bad experience when she gave birth to her daughter Florence, who is now 16.

    “I had an emergency caesarean and the anaesthetic wore off halfway through,” she said. “They all ignored me when I was saying ‘Ow’, but because I was in shock, I wasn’t screaming. I could feel being sewn back up.

    “It was like being in a horror film, then I was given this baby to look after — and it was horrendous.”

    Grace said she “went into autopilot”; caring for Florence but she became “obsessive” over cleaning the house, and “I couldn’t feel,” she said. “I was like a stone with no emotion.

    “But being with horses opened my heart.”

    One of Grace’s clients was a horse owner, and hearing her tales, and remembering how much she had loved riding as a child, although she had never been able to have a horse of her own, Grace went back to the yard.

    “It might sound a bit hippy-dippy but horses have a natural healing energy,” she said. “I met an amazing woman with a mountain farm in Wales and had the most unbelievable healing experience. It made me realise I’m not a shit mother, and I learned what love really is.”

    Grace believes that had she not found horses again, she would still be depressed.

    “My life would just be empty,” she said.

    She now has her own horses, and involves them in offering equine-assisted therapy to her clients.

    “I want other people to have that chance,” she said. “To realise that, whatever happens, they can always be all right. The dream is to earn enough from the book to be able to live off it, and to be able to treat people without having to charge them, because often people with cancer can’t work.”

    Grace has her “big ginger” Irish sport horse Poppy, and Belle, a part-bred Welsh section D rehomed from Hope Pastures. She launched the book, which has been compared to the works of James Herriot, at the sanctuary to raise funds.

    “The world is so miserable at the moment,” she said. “I just want to help people laugh.”

    The Yard: How a Horse Healed My Heart is on sale online now.

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