Meet Sue Spence, an amazing Gold Coast local who has taken pet ownership to the next level.
Sue Spence is a true horse whisperer and with more than 45 years’ experience, has been able to do what we all want to do: turn our passion into business. Through Horses Helping Humans and her registered charity, the Horse Whispering Youth Program, Sue offers an amazing equine therapy service and charity serving many South-East Queenslanders.
We know that pets and animals can bring much joy, love and calmness to people. Pet therapy is not a new concept for the young and elderly alike. Most aged care homes offer regular visiting pets, for example. Sue chooses to use her horses for therapy.
Sue has been working with horses Sunny, Larry, Mindy and Yogi (each with their own distinct personality traits, just like people) to assist companies, psychologists, psychiatrists, small businesses, schools and community groups, youth and family services to help people unlock effective communication skills.
“I have built my program around teaching people to understand not just their own personalities, but others as well, as we all see and feel things differently,” Sue explains. “We also teach people what their conditioned response is while under stress – this presents through body language and energy spikes. Realising how we come across to others can help change relationships around us. By communicating consciously always, being aware of our body language and energy, we can avoid the confusion that arises when our words and body language are not congruent.
“Learning to effectively communicate with one another without being reactive changes the whole dynamic of teams and families,” she says. “People start working together, not against one another. Opinions can be given, not forced. People can be asked, not told. People can be heard without being shut down. Respect and dignity is restored.”
Sue’s students are easily able to relate to one or more of the different horses’ personalities. Take 15-year-old Emma, for example.
“Before I started natural horsemanship, I was a loud, over the top, constantly in your face kind of person. Sue and Mindy (the Shetland pony) have taught me to control my emotions and I have calmed down a lot. Also, by not being so rowdy in class I have got my grades up,” Emma says.
Research has also been undertaken on the benefits of dog therapy suggesting that using therapy dogs in response to traumatic events can help reduce symptoms of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety. The research has also highlighted children working with therapy dogs experience increased motivation for learning, resulting in improved outcomes.