Equine Therapy in Northern NSW

Mental health services come in all shapes and sizes. Just recently, a new Equine Therapy Program has started in Northern NSW and it’s got us thinking about the unique ways personal growth and life skills can be improved.

Caress Care is a new approach to gaining courage, commitment and change. It’s an educational and therapeutic experience with horses, set within a group format or focused one-on-one. Participants acquire a new understanding of self, their behaviours, skills, values and preferences in a fun and exciting atmosphere. Programs build on:

  • Self esteem
  • Self confidence
  • Leadership

The Caress Care Building Skills for Life Program incorporates counselling, mindfulness practices and horsemanship. It works on one solid objective at a time and then builds on skills each week. The program engages the body, mind and spirit of both person and horse and provides direction for people who are rebuilding their lives following:

  • Trauma
  • Abuse
  • Sexual exploitation
  • Mental illness
  • Addiction
  • Attempted suicide
  • Incarceration
  • Homelessness
  • Social anxiety
  • Bullying
  • Harassment

Caress Care is based on the Equine Assisted Learning model, which uses horses for therapeutic purposes. Horses give immediate feedback to a handler or rider’s actions, and often mirror the feelings of the person assigned a task.

Therapists assign tasks by setting goals for the client to complete, such as leading the horse to a designated area or putting a halter on the horse. The client must listen to the therapist’s directions and ask questions to complete the task to the best of their ability. This helps improve the client’s ability to listen and follow advice and it encourages communication between the instructor and client (handler) and the handler and the horse. The handler must then discuss the thought process, ideas and problem solving used to complete the task.

The benefit of horses for therapeutic purposes is not lost on Macleay Options’, Gavan Landini, who runs Stock Camp at Kundaberg NSW (just outside Kempsey). Stock Camp is an ends-based alternative education system that engages youth who are disengaged from mainstream education. The on-property program aims to intervene in the descent into anti-social behaviour and act as a diversion from incarceration or suicide.

According to Gavan, “Stock Camp is successful because it sets out a written agreement with each participant. We completely understand each other and our expectations and we are flexible in our approach. Participants come for the horses but stay for the social adjustment.”



Caress Care – Equine Assisted Therapy & Counselling Services is located at 25 Rankin Road, Bexhill. For more information call 0409 603 402 or email

Stock Camp is located at 27 Seams Road, Kundabung. For more information call Gavan on 0438 395 125 or email



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