A far cry from the heartland of South Africa in which Gale Falcongreen grew up, the qualified horse coach, holistic counsellor and intuitive healer has settled on a small property on the outskirts of Brisbane.
Specialising in guided visualisation, non-verbal communication, equine and animal-assisted therapy along with horsemanship and ridden lessons, Gale knows how important the role animals can play in the healing process.
“I was born and bred in Zululand in a small Sugar Cane farming district,” Gale said.
“I grew up in the bush, mostly barefoot, learning animal skills and the ways of the Zulu people.
“I just always felt better being around animals and horses.”
Using natural healing methods, Gale said she felt like she had a shared understanding with the animals around her, eventually using these natural abilities to develop a small business.
“What started out as a hobby and a bit of pocket money with people asking me for lessons and advice developed into a business after my marriage broke down.
“Suddenly I had to support myself, my three children and all the animals.”
Refusing to give in to the corporate world, Gale made the leap into equine therapy and hasn’t looked back.
“My horses have taught me to really live in the moment and that everything just takes the time it takes.
“To live my life being really present and to meet them and all beings in the same way each and every day. To truly see the love and mutuality in all beings, regardless of circumstance or decisions made.”
Gale’s clients and students include corporate work, incorporating non-verbal communication to develop harmony and support and respect in the work place.
She is also available to people struggling with PTSD, anxiety, autism, boundary issues and much more.
“I use my horses as a mirror to a person to see what is really going on,” Gale said.
“Horses just really see you and read your body.”
Gale said her work with non-verbal communication and somatics is aided by her horses.
“I like to think of the client, myself and the horse on a journey together, being held in a very safe and secure space. So much more than the usual student/teacher or client/counsellor we are on a very deeply respectful shared journey.”
Gale said the simple connection and passive motion from riding a horse can be empowering in and of itself.
“Especially to people who face physical challenges.”
One client in particular has seen extraordinary improvement since meeting Gale.
Four-year-old Devlin has faced many life challenges after being born prematurely and weighing a mere 750grams.
After surpassing all expectations, Devlin was diagnoses with Autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Meeting with Gale every weekend, Devlin is given the opportunity to sit in the saddle and go for a ride.
“He is super adventurous, like most little boys,” Gale said, adding his face lights up when the pair go from a walk to a trot.
“It melts my heart each and every time and, to have not only Devlin but his amazing parents, Desire and Dave, in my life is such a gift to me.”
Gale said the variety of people she works with is all part of what she loves about her work, a safe space which she has developed over many years.
“I love the different people, abilities and connections that are formed at the property. I also teach children and adults of all ages how to ride and how to develop "feel" and confidence.
“I'm not so much interested in the mechanics of riding until the connection and partnership has been formed.”
Gale said once you come to an understanding with your equine partner and begin to breathe together – the rest follows.
“The pure joy and magic I witness on a daily basis working with these amazing creatures makes all the early starts and long days so worthwhile and I can’t imagine doing anything else.”
Located in Samford, the 3 hectare property, Gale designed the equine infrastructure for her business which includes a fully-fenced Olympic sized sand arena, sand round yard and tranquil gardens and trails.
“The property is alive with trees, flowers, vegetable gardens, heritage and rare chickens, exotic parrots, guinea pigs, dogs, various other creatures and of course the horses.”
Currently working with six horses, Gale also welcomes a number of horses which are used for various visitors or training and re-education.
“My full time herd includes my special mare, Lacey, a beautiful buckskin quarter horse and truly the horse of my dreams.”
Gale’s property is also home to a Welsh B pony, a Thoroughbred-cross, an Icelandic Horse and two Miniature horses by the name of Ella and Scotty.
Taking care of her small herd along with the many other farm animals, Gale said her major challenge was finding enough hours in the day.
“Being self employed and working from home, you never really stop,” Gale said, adding her three, teenage children Blake, Ivan and Nina have been incredibly supportive of her work.
“They continue to help and support me and share their home with all the students coming and going.
“They, and my horses, have been my greatest teachers and my greatest loves.”
Gale said anyone wanting to know more about equine therapy or horse training should ‘go for it’.
“The rewards are enormous – the days are very long and the highs are very high and the lows are very low.
“You are going to work in all weather conditions and spend a lot of time checking the weather app on your phone! You probably wont get a day off for the first few years and you can forget about a holiday for a little while.
“That being said, when you love it as much as I do, you don't want a holiday,” she said, adding it was important for anyone interested to seek out a mentor to help expand your knowledge.
“But believe in yourself and follow your own unique dream.”
With a bright future ahead, Gale said she plans to continue helping people and helping horses.
“I plan to offer short stay retreats soon – incorporating horsemanship, nature and holistic counselling.”
- Visit Gale’s Facebook page for more.
- Images by Ann-Marie Boyd.