Tag: mental health

Healthy Swellness: Equine therapy in King City with Jennifer Schramm


Early this summer, I was invited to try a session of equine therapy in King City, Ontario. I had never heard of equine therapy, but I love the idea of quality time with horses so I accepted the invite to join Jennifer Schramm to try a session of equine therapy so that I could get a taste of what her workshops, Unbridled Experiences, are like.

I arrived and Jennifer and I spent the first part of the session chatting inside. And then we stepped outside to the barn to meet the horses. As our first exercise, she had me meet each horse but I wasn’t to pet them. After spending a few minutes with them, she asked me what I’d noticed about each horse. I could tell one seemed more impatient and distracted (and I guessed he was the youngest), another was more calm, quiet and seemed more sensitive (this indeed was the oldest horse) and the third horse was somewhere between the two. Jenn told me my assessments were quite accurate. It’s pretty interesting what you can read about an animal by just being in their presence.


So I learned from my two-hour session that there are different types of equine therapy and it can be beneficial for a wide range of issues. For example, it can be a helpful therapy for children with autism; from what I learned from Jenn, the therapy then revolves more of the routine of caring for the animal and being in the moment and being in tune with the animal’s cues.

But the therapy session I took part in was crafted around more around self discovery; considering an issue or area of one’s life you’re coping with and seeking some answers to, and through exercises with the horses, drawing some insight on how your actions, motivations and behaviour are affecting that area of your life.  Horses are powerful, sensitive and emotional animals, though, and through that, they can help reveal things about yourself you may not even realize.

This might be easier to illustrate with a hypothetical scenario. For example, let’s say you’re feeling lonely because you feel like friends have been distancing themselves from you and this is the issue you’re focusing on for your session. I did a few different exercises with the horses, but one I did with the oldest horse involved having to get her to move through two pylons I’d set up, but without pulling or pushing her to direct her that way. If you (as “lonely person with no friends”) were doing this drill and were really impatient and angry with the horse, you might come to realize that those aspects of your personality and how you’ve been treating your chums may be what is making your friends shy away from you.

I can tell you it took awhile but eventually the horse made her way through those pylons, but only after I got a bit of guidance from Jenn. To finish the session, we headed indoors where we chatted some more and she asked me to jot down my thoughts just for myself to process the day’s session.

I wasn’t in a rush so before I left, Jenn introduced me to her mini pony, Paddington, who that day was being kept in the stables as he was a bit under the weather. He’s an absolute darling.


After one short session, I can’t say if I’m entirely a proponent personally for equine therapy, but I think if it works for you, or you’re seeking something different in your journey of therapy and self discovery, go for it. I will say that some quiet quality time with the horses, and simply having time to focus and connect with your own thoughts and feelings and issues you’re dealing with does feel quite therapeutic in and of itself. Whether one can glean and learn from the interactions with the horses is something I’d have to explore much more of.

For more about Jennifer and her equine therapy Unbridled Experiences workshops in King City, visit www.jenniferschramm.com.


Leave a Comment August 10, 2017

Fitness Swellness: RBC Race for Kids Toronto, September 17, 2016

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I was asked several months ago if I’d be interested in coming on board as an ambassador for the RBC Race for Kids, and while there are many worthy causes and I would love to be able to pitch in as much as I can, that’s not always possible, but in this case, the cause is one I personally find very important (I’ve heard too many stories of kids suffering from mental health issues, and who’ve had a tough time finding help) so I didn’t hesitate to join as a media ambassador.

I’ve never run the race before, but I like that there are three not too intimidating distances (5, 7 or 15k) — and the 5k is super approachable as it’s open to those with strollers, dogs and walkers. The race takes place on Saturday, September 17, 2016 at Mel Lastman Square.

As for the cause? Well, the race has raised more than $5.1 million for youth mental health over the past three years. Over two million youth in Canada suffer from mental illness yet only one in five get the help they need.

Unlike most other races, this one has no race registration fee, however when you register you do make a personal commitment to raise money (a minimum of $100) for the cause. I have not yet started fundraising, so if you’d like to sponsor me, please feel free to click on over your support, even if it’s just a few bucks. I’m happy to support a race in which donations go to the Family Navigation Project at Sunnybrook. The Project is a non-profit service that helps families of young people 13-26 living in the GTA suffering from mental health issues or addiction navigate the  complex health system to find the resources that can help them.

I decided to run the 15k (I’ll use it as a training run, in case I end up doing a fall half-marathon) and I’ll be wearing gear from race sponsor New Balance (like this outfit I have on here from their fall collection). I’ve roped in a few friends to run as well, and I think it’ll be a fun one, so I hope to see you there! Please note that registration closes tonight (at 11:59 p.m. September 8, 2016).

Learn more about the RBC Race for Kids here.

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Leave a Comment September 8, 2016

Fitness Swellness: Run for Women Oakville race report

With Anya and Simone before the Run for Women

“It’s up to us!” is the motto of the Run for Women and there was a great sisterhood ambiance at the race eight days ago that made the day cheerful and full of hope despite the  rainy weather.

That Sunday’s grey skies and cool temperature (it was 8C but felt like 4C) was welcome, though, considering the Saturday was very warm and it would’ve been a very sticky, uncomfortable race with that heat. My fellow runners, Anya and Simone, trekked to Oakville reminding ourselves of this as we shivered in our running gear waiting for the race to start. I started my 10k race at 10 am. and Anya and Simone ended up switching to the 5k race (both weren’t feeling 100 percent) and they started at 10:15 (which meant they would finish before me). I didn’t anticipate it being a great race for me; having been in Squamish just a few days earlier, my legs had been sore for days after a 3.5 hour hike of the Chief and I was still tired from my traveling.

So I ran at about 75 percent capacity (which I describe as feel slightly painful but not extremely painful and out of breath), and even at this somewhat comfortable pace, I could tell that I was towards the front of the pack. I didn’t realize I hadn’t started my Nike+ app when I started the race so it wasn’t telling me an accurate pace, but I could tell I wasn’t going at my strongest, but I knew that going in (given how I was still tired from my hike, and generally tired and worn out since the Goodlife Toronto Marathon) and I’d accepted it was not going to be a PB.

The race was on a gravelly road, which was a bit muddy and wet in spots, and the 10k race is two loops of the 5k route. I normally am not fond of loops but it didn’t make much of a difference this race since we were in Bronte Creek Provincial Park and the scenery to me looked the same (pretty and green). The only not so great aspect of the loops is I eventually started passing the 5k walkers, who would walk spread out across the entire path.

There’s something charming about smaller races such as this one. I’ve mostly run larger races, and while the crowd support can be great (but not a given, there are many bigger races with very little crowd support) there’s definitely more of a close-knit feeling at this Run for Women that all three of us noticed.

Another plus of a small race? It turns out you can place pretty well in the standings. I finished in 54:02 (which is slow for me), but that still makes me the 12th woman to finish (and the 5th in my division out of 59 women), so I’m pretty pleased with that. And it was so nice that Anya and Simone were able to stand right at the finish line to cheer me! They both crossed the finish line smiling, and we immediately went back to Toronto and indulged in a post-race brunch to celebrate.

post-race with the lovely Simone and Anya!

I’d definitely run this race again (despite it being a decent distance from Toronto). It’s for a great cause (women’s mental health) and I loved the happy, positive atmosphere. There’s still one more Run for Women this season — in Montreal, this Sunday, June 14th, if you’re looking for a race!

Much thanks to Shoppers Drug Mart for the opportunity to run this race (and for supporting women’s mental health!), and to Brooks Running for our running shoes (from the Running Room) and our running outfits for the race!

Now, onto my final spring race: the Nike Women’s 15k Toronto! Who else is running this race??




Leave a Comment June 8, 2015

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