November 23, 2021 12.24 pm

Healing horse guides Lincolnshire mother through cancer treatment

Antonia was a keen horse rider before becoming wheelchair-bound

A single mother from Lincolnshire who was left at a loss after her cancer diagnosis has said that a series of horse therapy sessions was “like divine intervention” during her darkest hours.

Antonia Ffitch-Moye, 51, from Eastville near Spilsby and Boston, was diagnosed with breast cancer in October 2020, but had to wait four months for surgery due to the risk posed by COVID-19 on her existing health conditions.

To try and cope with her trauma, Antonia, a mother of three, kept the news from wider family and friends and remained strong for her children and partner, who had already lost his mum and sister to cancer before.

She then confronted her feelings after signing up for the Macmillan spirit and soul equine therapy service, thought to be the first of its kind in the country.

The service uses horses to provide emotional support for those affected by cancer, and is based at the No Reins centre in Nettleham, Lincolnshire.

Antonia was a keen horse rider earlier in her life, but had to give it up when she became wheelchair-bound due to other health conditions, and the Macmillan sessions have now inspired her to work with horses again.

She said: “I’m not one for sitting and talking about my feelings with a box of tissues to a complete stranger, but I can talk to a horse. Being around the horses helped me to look at my own feelings. This has been a hard journey.

“I hadn’t realised how much it had affected me. I was being strong for my partner. I never broke down in tears. But since having the sessions with Lucy I’ve recognised that that it’s okay to cry, to scream, to be silent.

“It is okay to ask ‘why me’ and not get an answer and worry about it coming back. It has given me so much strength.”

Horses are prey animals by nature, so they can pick up on emotions and body language, so the equine therapy helps people to regulate their emotions and understand more about how they feel.

It is designed to help build the confidence of people going through cancer treatment, with participants taking part in therapeutic exercises with the horses and spending time learning horsemanship skills over the course of four sessions.

Antonia said: “There is a spirituality about it. Although the horse was just standing there, the reactions I got from the horse were incredible.

“I lost a child when he was six months old and when I was talking about that time, the horse Echo – my therapist – stepped back and Lucy said she’s giving you the space to let it all out. There was a real connection there, I could almost hear the horse saying ‘it’s okay, it’s okay’.”

Lucy Curtis, owner of No Reins, is running the Macmillan Spirit and Soul Equine Therapy sessions from her centre in Nettleham. She said: “The transformation in Antonia has been incredible and really demonstrates the healing power of animals.

“Many people affected by cancer find it hard to talk about the emotional burden a diagnosis can bring in a traditional therapy room setting, so this service helps people to confront those feelings and improve their emotional wellbeing.”

For more information about the spirit and soul equine therapy service that Macmillan offer in Lincolnshire, or to sign up for four free sessions, call 01283 384511 or email [email protected].

Spotted an error? Please notify us by selecting that text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.