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Moving Forward


One of the most debilitating human emotions is the feeling of being stuck. Stuckness doesn’t sound very dramatic, but it’s a soul-crusher. The sense of hope and momentum has drained away; the future no longer beckons, but seems like an inevitable spin around the hamster’s eternal wheel.

The veterans who come to us often have this kind of feeling. They’ve lost their sense of belief in their own capacities. The purpose they felt when they were in the services has disappeared. They are lost in a miasma of physical and mental pain. They often can’t see a way forward.

At HorseBack, we are all about moving forward, even when that seems difficult. Perhaps especially when that feels difficult. As we often say, the men and women who come here are not arriving at a holiday camp. It can all look very charming and delightful, with the Scottish hills and the beautiful horses and the sense of peace and space, and it is, in a way, but we instantly ask our veterans challenging questions. Many of them know nothing of horses and may even find the half-ton creatures alarming. We’ll get them to form partnerships with their horses, to understand the nature of the prey animal, to put their own needs aside as they give their horses what the animals need. Ego has to go; new habits have to be learnt; fears have to be faced.

The more the men and women move out of their comfort zone, the more they have a renewed sense of momentum. They remember that they can do things they thought they no longer could. Each day, they learn something new, and hit a new milestone, and conquer a new mountain top.

The movement is physical too – they start to stand taller, walk with determination, trust their bodies. The horses read all this and find it reassuring and walk forward with their new humans. That old feeling of stuckness can’t survive the oceanic sensation of a trusting flight animal following you about the round pen with no rope and no halter.

There is the release of shame, as well. That’s a huge part of getting out of the mire. Everyone who comes here has wounds and scars, visible and invisible. The people who work here have them. We are not in the business of presenting a shiny front to world, as if life transformation is a matter of saying a few affirmations in front of the glass every morning. We know that getting out of the stuckness requires courage, and vigilance, and the building of sturdy mental habits. We know that there is no fairy dust, and no magic wands. We accept that all of us are a little bit broken, and so that can be talked about and laughed about and empathised with, and then the shame has nothing to feed on.
If we – the HorseBack team and the people we work with – are all in it together, then we can move forward as one. And there is a beautiful hope in that.

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We do not rely on government funding so any donations will greatly assist with the running of our charity.

We do not rely on government funding so any donations will greatly assist with the running of our charity.