A Thousand Hooves: Stories of the Moreton Bay Equestrian Community
Gale wishes to acknowledge and pay our respect to the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the first inhabitants of the nation and the traditional custodians of the land where we live, learn and work. The Jinnaburra people and surrounding nations Yugera, Jugera, Turrubal, Wakka Wakka and Gubbi Gubbi. We pay our respects to ancestors and Elders, past, present and emerging. We acknowledge that sovereignty was never ceded, and this land always was, always will be Aboriginal.
In the wild and fascinating landscapes of Africa's KZN, Gale embarked on an extraordinary journey fuelled by her love for nature. Growing up surrounded by diverse cultures and wonderful wildlife, including swinging monkeys, cheeky warthogs, and roaring lions, Gale developed an unwavering connection with the natural world. Through her experience she humbly acknowledges her white privilege and pays respects to the Zulu people who helped raise her, recognizing the sacrifices they made during the time of apartheid in South Africa.
Gale's parents had a rich history with horses in Zambia. Her Danish father's family and her mother's family both had ponies and racehorses. However, Gale's parents didn't share her passion for horses, and it wasn't until she became an adult that she finally owned her first horse. Along her journey, she encountered many horses that she begged, borrowed, or metaphorically "stole." These experiences deepened her passion for equines and shaped her understanding of ownership, realizing that true ownership extends beyond possessions, especially when it comes to the land and the sentient beings that inhabit it.
When Gale's family immigrated to Australia during her teenage years, she experienced profound trauma from leaving her birthplace. The call of Africa never left her, and after finishing school, she pursued knowledge and understanding and returned to the continent. Engaging in missions and healing work, Gale learned from Indigenous Shamans, solidifying her belief in the transformative power of the earth, nature, and animals. She was particularly grateful to the Zulu people for teaching her the gift of systemic constellation therapy, which deepened her appreciation for ancestral guidance and spiritual connection. I was amazed to discover that even today, Gale embraces the stars, riding her Icelandic horse, Soli, across her property during twilight hours and full moons, seeking energy and wisdom from the earth.
Gale married and became a proud mother to three beautiful children: Blake, Ivana, and Nina. Her children became her greatest teachers, revealing the pure and unconditional power of love. Settling in the picturesque Samford Valley, Gale fulfilled her lifelong dream of owning horses, rescuing animals, and creating a sanctuary of deep peace. After leaving her marriage, she worked with the land to shape and build the beautiful sanctuary in Draper that stands today. Many people contributed to making her dream a reality, and visitors can now enjoy the serene paddocks, tranquil dams, Frida Kahlo-inspired cacti and succulent garden, and clouds that inspire endless daydreaming. The vibrant artwork of Indigenous artist John Martin, also known as Keys, adorns the horse's storage area and feed shed, adding to the sanctuary's beauty.
Initially, Gale found her calling in providing riding lessons, incorporating various modalities inspired by pioneers like Sally Swift, Tom Dorrance, Ray Hunt, and her beloved mentor and ‘soul mother’ Nancy Capewell. She developed innovative methods that encouraged clients to establish a deeper, intuitive connection with horses. From riding bareback with halters to blindfolding exercises, Gale prioritized breath and heart connection over coercion or force. Each activity stimulated mindfulness, body awareness, and a profound sense of harmony with the horse. During our meeting, I witnessed the horses responding to Gale's breathing patterns as she rode bareback with just a rope halter, radiating joy and ease.
Through these lessons, Gale discovered her unique ability to connect and communicate with her riders on a personal level. This realization led her to understand that her understanding, compassion, and lived experiences could create new and transformative experiences through a unique service. Motivated by the incredible healing potential that horses possess, Gale became a registered counsellor and embarked on a quest to blend ancient wisdom with modern science. Equine therapy, also known as equine-assisted therapy or horse therapy, became the cornerstone of her practice. Through carefully designed activities and interactions with horses, participants could uncover profound insights, process trauma, build self-awareness, and develop essential life skills.
Gale's expertise in equine-assisted therapy spans over fifteen years. Her sanctuary, nestled in an idyllic natural setting far from the distractions of everyday life, provides a nurturing backdrop for profound personal growth and healing. Combining trauma response techniques, somatic therapies, art, nature, rewilding, grounding techniques, and the therapeutic power of the natural environment, Gale approaches therapy holistically. Wind, trees, and wildlife become integral elements of her sessions, enhancing the therapeutic experience. While talk therapy has its place, the emphasis lies in the profound impact of the natural environment and the interactions with horses.
The unique experience can be seen through the description of one her long standing clients, she says; “One time when I was having a very bad day. I had been dysregulated and ticking badly all week. During my weekly session with Gale, I was sitting in the quiet on the ground in the arena, drawing, surrounded by the heard. Most were laying down resting. BB walked over to me, approaching me from behind, put her head down, next to the side of mine and just stood there like that for ages. Connecting with me, soothing and holding space for me. I could feel her thoughts.” These are the sort of unique experiences and solace that can be found in nature and through equestrian therapy.
Today, Gale's equine family consists of eleven magnificent beings: seven horses, two miniature horses, and two donkeys named Dante and Delilah. Rather than labelling them as rescue horses, Gale acknowledges that they came from homes with good intentions but may not have fully met the horses' needs in terms of education and circumstances. Compassion for all beings, including humans, is of utmost importance to Gale and is reflected in her vegan lifestyle and philosophy. In her sanctuary, these horses and other beautiful beings have found forever homes, each contributing their unique personality and temperament to the diverse dynamics within the herd. They have a choice and act as co-facilitators in the therapeutic work.
For parents considering a horse for their child, Gale advises providing opportunities for them to experience the full range of responsibilities and experiences associated with horses, regardless of weather conditions or challenges. For adults interested in horses, she recommends finding a horse mentor who embodies kindness and understanding. Reflecting on personal desires and capabilities, and considering the time, financial commitment, and patience necessary to provide proper care and attention to these remarkable animals is essential.
Gale's equine therapy adventure is an inspiring tale of passion, wisdom, and connection. From her roots in Africa to her transformative work with horses in Australia, Gale's journey has shaped her into an advocate for recognizing the sentient nature of all beings. Within the realm of equine therapy, laughter mingles with tears, and personal growth intertwines with the graceful rhythm of hooves—a remarkable fusion that continues to unveil the boundless potential of this extraordinary partnership.
Scroll across to view all images...
All Photos are Copyright of Novina Photography
This Project was made possible through RADF
The Regional Arts Development Fund is a partnership between the Queensland Government and Moreton Bay Regional Council to support local arts and culture in regional Queensland.