Kate shares healing powers of animals with 'therapy farm' in Woodford Halse
It took six horses, three dogs, four goats and a dozen chickens for a Woodford Halse woman to realise her dream of helping people heal.
Children's author Kate Kee launched Stable Mates in 2012 to help children and adults with a range of health problems.
Animal-assisted therapy is a growing field that uses animals to help people recover from - or better cope with - all sorts of issues including depression, anxiety or bereavement.
Results show an increase in confidence, self-esteem and positive thinking.
Kate said: "I realised at the tender age of 41 exactly what I needed to ‘do with my life’.
"Getting a qualification to do it was, to be honest, secondary to already having had a good dose of life experience that put me in the right place to run such a business but of course you have to tick that academic box, so I had retrained."
She wanted to find out why some people 'cope' with life's inevitable storms while other people struggle.
"I am not suggesting that I have found that one answer, and certainly not a one size fits all solution," added Kate.
"However, my instinct is that by reconnecting with nature in general, we help ourselves build resilience, perspective, balance and empathy. The proof of this has been borne out by Stable Mates repeated ability to reach those that have not managed to engage with any other ‘process’ they have tried before."
Kate said she was fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time.
She said: "I do not take credit personally for this. Northamptonshire is a very beautiful place and I had enough examples around me of animals being the key to rehabilitation, that I could not ignore it.
"So I started, with around six horses and ponies, three dogs, four goats and some chickens, not to mention the wildlife around us that of is countless, in this stunning part of the country."
She said the animals provide a ‘bridge’ between the client and therapist.
"Most of our childhood stories feature animals, and we generally accept their non-judgmental, agenda free actions and reactions, as trustworthy," she added.
"To begin with, very few people had heard of Animal Assisted Therapy, most thought I was giving therapy to the animals rather than them helping us."
It is more widely recognised now and Social Services, schools, the LAC sector and residential homes, are now more likely to use the business' services as a ‘first port of call’ rather than a last resort.
Their main client base is hard to reach teenagers, but Kate has also seen clients ranging from five years to 75 years.
Kate went on: "Lockdown, and this past year in general, has of course provided many challenges. Due to who we work with it was decided early on that we needed to continue to offer our service, and therefore we have been busy most of the year.
"During the initial lockdown, we did have to stop while facilitators worked out how to safely get the clients to us, and during this quieter time, I released two children’s book, both, basically a Stable Mates session in a book."
‘The Day We Asked the Fish to Climb a Tree’ and ‘The Day We Asked the Goat to Bite a Lemon’ are both available on Amazon.
Kate said: "Sadly, it looks like we are going to be needed more than ever as we come carefully out of this extraordinary time. The scars are yet to be properly known, but we look forward to being part of the solution and encouraging everyone to cherish and use the therapy that is right outside their front door.
"Let yourselves off the electronic lead."
Contact Stable Mates on (01327) 260627 or see their page on Facebook to find out more.