Traci Sewell

The moment I drove through the gates at Bowhayes I knew that I was in a very special place indeed. Aside from the stunning views over the Culm valley there was an instant serenity coming from every direction.

The past ten years have been life changing for me for all the wrong reasons, I had been nursing since I was 17 and was passionate about helping people, especially those who couldn’t help themselves. It was, therefore, a rather unpleasant surprise to fall ill and be diagnosed with both cancer and a rare, chronic life-limiting condition.

The cancer was, luckily, confined to one area and, with treatment and surgery, relatively quickly, resolved. The ‘T.C.S’ however, proved to be rather more widespread and, with each Flare-Up, began to affect my entire body. As a result of this I spent almost four years confined to a wheelchair. Spinal surgery, some amazing cutting edge knee braces and a pair of crutches combined with a large helping of pig-headed determination to prove the consultants wrong meant that the wheelchair has now been consigned to the depths of the shed for four years. I am on a cocktail of medication including morphine simply to enable me to get out of bed each morning. I believed that I had got to a point where there was no further improvement to be had and was as happy with the situation as I could be.

Throughout the years the one constant has been my horses – in spite of the doctors orders to stop riding! My horses legs worked where mine couldn’t and I was able to maintain a degree of freedom and normality, the problem was always the amount of pain I would be in after every ride. I had almost reached the point where the ‘pay off’ was no longer enough to overcome the pain and effect on my everyday life and work.

Lucinda and her amazing horses have changed that in ways I could never have dreamed possible. Simply being amongst the herd was revitalising, my energy and confidence returned with a vengeance and I actually dared to believe I had found something that could improve every aspect of my life. I would have been more than grateful if this was all that I got – however there was more, so very much more.

After my first De-Stressage session with Barty, an old and slightly “crocked” horse with whom I identified and empathised with instantly and completely, I thought I would experience all the familiar aches and pains but there were none, I waited for them to appear the following morning but still nothing more than some under-used muscles quietly reminding me of their existence. After my second session I was noticeably taller, my protective posture was changing dramatically and people around me were noticing colour in my cheeks that wasn’t the grey they were used to! I rediscovered my waist, remembered that I bent in the middle, my knees felt more stable than they had in years and I grew by at least an inch.

Every session is now an exciting voyage of discovery and rediscovery. Each time I connect with Barty we both take something totally positive from each other. Where walking from the school to my car had been a struggle, I now find myself marching down the lane to ‘do’ the horses at the same pace as Lucinda and Sarah.

Everyone around me has noticed the changes both physical and psychological. My children can’t believe how much better I am in such a relatively short space of time and my husband is more than pleased with my newfound energy and flexibility!

Put quite simply De-Sressage has been life changing and it is an ongoing journey which excites me on every possible level. I am proud to be a ‘success story’ and, now, equally proud to be a part of the team here at Bowhayes in my ‘work’ capacity as a counsellor.

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