Speaker Details

Speaker:Sandy Birkland
Topic:The Heart Retreat **

Sandi Birkland is a certified Equine Assisted Learning Facilitator and a past Parelli Natural Horsemanship level 3 student.

Ever since I was very young, I loved horses. Real, fake, stuffed, photos pretend. I would pretend that I was a horse and run up and down like I was a wild horse in a field. It was my dream to have a “ranch” with hundreds of horses on it. Every size, colour, and breed. It didn’t matter; I just wanted horses, horses horses. My parents did not want to buy a horse for me but that didn’t stop me, I wanted to buy my own horse. When I was 14 years old, from my baby sitting money I had been saving for a couple of years, I bought my very first horse, Sandaro and that is how my love, desire, passion, admiration and respect for my equine partners became reality. That horse was Sandaro and we shared a full life together for 33 years. Sandaro and I did so much together, day after day after day, until 2007 when Sandaro had to be put down due to a tumor on his bladder, a horrible and tough call for me, but little did I know my life was about to get worse. My dad passed away 3 days later. Tragic yes but they were going to help me turn it into something positive. HEART Retreat was born with the guidance of my Dad and Sandaro. It was on my way home from my Dad’s funeral, I was still raw from losing my best friend (Sandaro) and I passed by a farm that was for sale as I looked at it and said one of these days I am going to own a farm, all of a sudden a voice said to me “equine healing centre”, that was it I remembered how Sandaro helped me through some really challenging times in my life. Thank you both. In 2007 the idea of HEART Retreat was born. So now I am living my childhood dream! The only thing is I know that 100 or more horses is very unrealistic if you want to have enough money for groceries, unless of course you win the lottery.

HEART Retreat is a sanctuary for horses and for people who seek their comfort and their guidance. We have 11 rescue horses, 3 donkeys, 2 llamas and now 4 myotonic goats. We have been helping people since 2011. HEART Retreat is committed and passionate about our newest program; I again have turned another tragedy into something positive. In October 2017 and March 2018, two very beautiful and talented youth left this earth, way too early. Holly was a very close friend of my daughters and Arianna was her school mate. In honour of Holly and Arianna, we are offering a safe haven for youth with a programme called The H.O.L.L.Y Project. We are offering Equine Assisted Learning to youth that will assist them with learning coping skills and more valuable life skills through our rescue horses. Life skills such as team building, self-confidence, and self-esteem, trust and empowerment to name a few. The programme is a an Equine Assisted Learning programme that can be attended one session at a time but it is actually designed to be attended as a 6-12 week workshop.

I look forward to sharing more about the sessions and workshops that HEART Retreat offers when we meet. Thank you and blessings