Meet the team

 
 

My name is Sue Blagburn, and I am the founder and main facilitator at Adventures with Horses, and Managing Director as we move into forming a Community Interest Company.

Becoming a social entrepreneur feels very natural. I ran my first horse business when I was only 21 years old, and then ran a marketing communications and graphic design business for over 20 years. I have always worked in away where the emphasis is on providing a service which makes an impact on human and other than human life, where the focus is on developing a sustainable holistic organisation based on integrity and a passion for the service we provide, which is integral to the needs of all, rather than focusing on the bottom line. A Social Enterprise is described as an organisation that applies commercial strategies to maximize improvements in human and environmental well-being, which completely fits with my values and way of running a business.

Developing Adventures with Horses is exciting and it’s also occasionally terrifying! However, I think feeling fear at times, when running an organisation where you are impacting on other peoples lives is healthy, it’s a responsibility that I take seriously. Part of this is about developing a team of people who have the qualities and qualifications that support my vision and collectively sustain our mission. Another part is about how to develop Adventures with Horses into a sustainable social enterprise that will flourish and thrive and can offer more people the benefits of equine facilitated learning. Our new fundraising video shows some of the things we do at Adventures with Horses.

 

"Our mission statement is to facilitate learning and growth through the naturally occurring therapeutic opportunities horses can provide, in order to develop potential, self awareness and skills, which are transferable back into peoples every day lives."

 

This includes each and everyone of us who work at Adventures with Horses. Working with horses in this way is a journey of learning, for our clients this may just be over a programme of 6-8 sessions, or a workshop, or a course, but to facilitate this work to others, we have to practice what we preach! I see “the art of horse whispering” as listening to how horses prefer us to ‘show up’ when we engage with them. For some of us, including myself, this is a life long journey of deepening my insights into reciprocal relationship between man and horse, on how horses can enhance our well being, and how we can enhance theirs.

My journey started when I was a child, and connecting with horses in their natural environment was something I did from a young age. At the time hanging out with herds, and engaging with the wild ponies in the New Forest were the only opportunities I had of being around horses, of course at the time I didn’t realise how important what I was observing and learning was, like most children what I wanted to do most was to ride. I did not come from an equestrian background, and finding a riding stables where I could work at the weekends was something I had to do for myself. I did this from the age of 12 and I have worked with horses either full time or part-time ever since. Through my life I’ve had wonderful opportunities to compete at a professional level in horse trials and showing, I have trained horses and hung out with various natural horsemanship teachers, I feel my horizons have been expanded by the best of what the horse world can offer. Learning experientially through horses deeply expresses all of what I have learned and am still learning on my journey, and teaching others about the gifts horses can give feels like a great privilege.

 

"I feel horses have been transporting us on outer journeys for thousands of years. In the 21st century, equine facilitated learning is a profound new way of horses transporting us on inner journeys from where we are to where we need to be."

 

I started to have a strong calling to work in equine facilitated learning since it’s early stages of development in the UK. Natural horsemanship started being introduced from the United States in the late 1990s, followed by various models of equine facilitated growth and learning and equine assisted therapy. I had already worked with challenged youth as a horse riding teacher, I had already naturally developed ways of facilitating, coaching and mentoring business people, so I had the right kind of skills. However, the strongest sense of wanting to do this work came from my own inner experiences of how my horses helped me, as my teachers, coaches and therapists, through my own life’s journey. 

However, I had no expectations at the time that Arthur, William and Harry who have been with me since they were foals (2004/2005) would choose to come on this adventure with me, but they did. This work doesn’t suit all horses or ponies, so to be working with three horses that I have trained and hung out with since the early stages of my development as a practitioner is extraordinary. Arthur, I bred, (I was the midwife at his birth, and like wise his mother, and his grandmother was with me from the age of 8 until she was 30 years old). William and Harry, (two New Forest ponies came to me at six months old and I have been learning from about 6 generations of their ancestors since I was a child). Arthur and William are now 12 years old and Harry is 11, experiencing their growth and development with clients is utterly amazing - I feel deep gratitude.

In 2008 having decided to train in equine facilitated learning I decided to sell my property and land in Dorset and it felt like the right thing to find Arthur a new home where he could fulfil his talents as a sports horse. Training in equine facilitated learning was going to be expensive and also includes training as a humanistic integrative counsellor specialising in gestalt and in ecopsychology and organisational development. So in June 2008 Arthur aged 4 years old went to a new home in Kent. On 14 December 2012 I bought him back, and he was reunited with his two play mates from foal hood, William and Harry. I wanted to prove horses are sentient beings who feel love and emotions, so I got their reunion filmed and put it on You Tube. The video went viral and at the time of writing this, there has been over eight and a half million views worldwide. This magical horse reunion was really the beginning of Adventures with Horses, and the seed was sown for the work we are now doing. Arthur, William and Harry are Adventures with Horses! They continued to inspire and open hearts, and mostly this is now face to face. We moved to Middle Stoke Farm, Holne on Dartmoor in December 2014 and began working with people officially in the summer of 2015. Watch the You Tube video here.

Before starting Adventures with Horses, I spent 7 years studying, working and volunteering in equine assisted learning and therapy. I work with various models, including the European Association for Horse Assisted Education and Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association. I am a certified professional committed to upholding EAGALA's code of ethic and standards in the practice of equine assisted psychotherapy and personal development. I am studying towards an advanced diploma in humanistic integrative counselling focusing mainly in Gestalt practices, I am a BACP student member and abide by the ethical framework for good practice in counselling and psychotherapy. I am a coach with a diploma in NLP, and I am also studying and practicing as a facilitator in ecopsychology, transformative learning and organisational change. I am also a accredited professional coach with the British Horse Society.

 
 
 

Equestrian Qualifications and Training
• British Horse Society Accredited Professional Coach and BHSAI
• EAHAE  Certified Professional Member (European Association for Horse Assisted Education)
• EAGALA Certified Professional, model practice level 1 & 2 (Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association).


• Work placements and volunteering in horse assisted education and therapy for people with special needs: Fortune Centre of Riding Therapy, Horse Boy Foundation, INTRA in Israel, Sirona Therapeutic Horsemanship and Erme Valley Riding for the Disabled Group.

Counselling and ecopsychology training and qualifications
• Although my work is predominately equine assisted much of it comes from a counselling and ecopsychology perspective which is culminating in studying towards an advanced diploma in Humanistic Counselling, and an MA in Ecology & Spirituality.

Business Qualifications, Training and Awards
• Diploma in Communications, Advertising and Marketing (Cam Dip)
• NVQ Level 3 in Business Start-Up
• SFEDI Award (Small Firms Enterprise Development Initiative) for Better Business Through IT Solutions Award 2001.
• Various training in coaching and mentoring to help businesses with their marketing communications strategy and branding.
• Diploma in NLP.

 
     
     
 
 
 
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