Not only is The Outlook a renowned holistic riding school, the property also comprises an equine therapy and coaching practice, a boutique guesthouse and a family home… to humans, horses, chickens, four wallabies, a dog and a cat!
The Outlook’s setting is nothing short of sublime. The 18-acre property on Darkinjung land borders Avoca Lake, neighbouring bushland, and is positioned halfway between Terrigal and Avoca on the Central Coast.
Owners Tim and Sam Rémond established The Outlook Cabana in 2010, followed by the Riding Academy in 2018 and Outlook Ecotherapy in 2019. The first three years involved clearing lantana, planting native trees and grasses, establishing a fruit and vegetable garden, and setting up a sustainable water system, including enviro-cycle and rainwater tanks. And the work never stops. Husband, father, gardener, country larrikin and (free) entertainer Tim roars past on a ride-on mower, while Sam shows us around the Cabana, a fabulous guesthouse for couples.
Horses have been a part of Tim and Sam’s lives for more than 50 years. Both grew up on remote, rural stations, where horses were both transport and company when out mustering stock, particularly overnight. For their four children, who completed school-of-the-air (distance education) for primary school, horses were their school friends, extended family members and favourite sport, as they toured across the state (and at times country) to compete in polocrosse, cross-country jumping and agricultural shows.
Sam says, “We now have four ponies and four horses, including a BFG (Big Friendly Giant) Percheron (Clydesdale) thoroughbred stock horse, and an Australian riding pony. The ponies and horses are very well mannered, which is essential for our students who can start lessons from age two-and-a-half upwards to senior years.”
The Outlook Riding Academy offers private and group lessons for all abilities (including those with higher needs), trail rides, holiday camps, gourmet picnics and pony parties. “One of the key differences with our riding school is that we offer holistic horsemanship, which means students learn about horse health, nutrition, grooming and daily care, as well as advanced riding skills,” Sam says.
Meanwhile, Tim and Sam’s daughter, clinical psychologist Anna Rémond, joins us to talk about the therapy and coaching programs she runs at The Outlook.
What is Outlook Ecotherapy?
Anna explains that she and Dan Sheptooha (pictured above) offer psychology, corporate coaching and research into the practice of equine-assisted psychology and ecotherapy.
Regarding equine-assisted psychology, Anna explains, “Depending on what the client presents with, we offer one-on-one sessions, which draw from traditional evidence-based interventions with the Equine Psychotherapy Institute’s version of equine therapy, which has roots in Gestalt Therapy, Buddhism and I-Thou Horsemanship. Horses function as co-therapists, supporting clients to regulate, seek honest feedback, and practise new skills without judgement.”
There are no weird couches or foggy windows at Outlook Ecotherapy. Instead, “We don’t wear uniforms and we practise in the paddock, shed or stables. We promote learning by doing (rather than talking about), and our sessions may involve horses, chickens, or a dog; indoor and outdoor games, arts, bushcraft; walking and talking along a forest track, climbing fence rails, and/or sitting inside with a cup of tea.
“Our clients, who are mostly children, teens and young adults with emotional, behavioural, and relationship difficulties, greatly benefit from the connection with horses, as well as through whole-body movement and play.”
Notably, equine-therapy is not horse riding. “Rather, the practice is about connection – seeing the horses as other beings, who can teach us lessons for life – helping to regulate our nervous systems, offering emotional safety and confirmation, promoting whole-body awareness, modelling healthy boundaries and authentic leadership. When clients are offered mounted sessions, these may occur without reins or a saddle.”
Anna refers to the pioneering work in equine-assisted therapy qualifications Meg Kirby is doing at the Equine Psychotherapy Institute she founded in Victoria. Meg recently released a book called Equine Therapy Exposed: Real Life Case Studies of Equine Assisted Psychotherapy and Equine Assisted Learning with Everyday People and Horses, which delivers fascinating insights into the practice for both experts and lay people.
One of the more positive effects of the covid pandemic is that there is a much greater awareness of mental health, particularly in the workplace. Anna is developing one-day corporate workshops that focus on three specific areas: Leading Through Change (effective leadership); Connect and Cultivate (team building); and New Outlook (corporate retreat).
The one-day experiential workshops will be held for up to 16 people, so they can work with the eight horses in pairs. “Participants will learn core skills from clinical psychology and equine therapy, including somatic, emotional and relational skills, and are designed to create meaningful and sustainable change.”
Programs will be tailored to specific briefs, and follow-up sessions are an important component. Anna remarks, “It’s an exciting, fun way to develop life skills and learn how to connect with yourself, others and the changing environment – with the help of horses.” And couldn’t we all do with more of that!
For more information about The Outlook Riding Academy, call 0427 189 567, see theoutlookridingacademy.com.au. For more information about equine therapy, email [email protected], see outlookecotherapy.com.
The Outlook Cabana
This luxurious self-contained hideaway offers accommodation for couples looking for a private country and coastal escape. It overlooks the gardens and grounds of The Outlook property. Features include an 11-metre infinity salt-water pool, king-size bed, fully equipped kitchenette, barbecue and kayaks (it’s a 10-minute paddle to Avoca Beach). The Cabana is a five-minute drive from the beaches, shops and restaurants of Avoca and Terrigal. For bookings, see theoutlookcabana.com.au.