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Changing Lives, One Horse at a Time

A “calm, fun, supportive and encouraging environment” – this is how Anne-Katrin Liebe, owner of Shine Bright Equine Human Services in Arcadia, describes her very special line of work.

“I have a vision to make people feel happier about themselves, healthier and more vibrant. Horses are the mediator to that,” Anne-Katrin told the Galston, Glenorie & Hills Rural Community News.

Born in the picturesque city of Potsdam in Germany, Anne-Katrin competed in gymnastics as a child, before picking up horse riding at the age of eight.

From here, she accrued numerous accolades in equestrian sports, including an International Equestrian Coach Level 2, a Certified German FN, and an Equestrian Australia NCAS qualification.

Anne-Katrin revealed her goal had always been to create an organisation whereby she could share her knowledge and positively influence other people.

“Even during my time at university, I dreamt of operating my own business. People often see their jobs as a place where they go to get a cheque from, but for me it’s more like a special thing that I can add to the world. That has always been my vision,” she says.

Anne-Katrin works with clients of all ages and abilities, with each interaction personalised and tailored to the individual. “Every session is different. My client might be a younger child with autism, or an adult with post-traumatic stress disorder,” she explains.

“We might do relaxation exercises or mindfulness exercises. Or if a person has negative self-image, we would do obedience exercises with the horse. The sessions range broadly, but it really comes down to knowing what that particular person need, and there is always guidance from myself.”

“I get to know the person, I assess the situation, and then I go off my experience, knowledge and intuition. For me, it’s really about building that trust.”

Anne-Katrin explained how the nature of her horses and the animal’s ability to read human body language is what creates the special bond with her clients.

“Horses are herd animals, and they are a master of senses. They can actually feel and recognise the brainwaves of people. I could probably talk about this for hours, but horses really live in the here and the now. They perceive certain moods and that’s really the starting point to building a partnership, as my clients engage in an intense emotional and cognitive process with the horse.”

Anne-Katrin revealed that working closely with her clients and seeing them flourish in the therapy sessions is the most fulfilling aspect of her job.

“I have, for example, a young girl with Down Syndrome, who I have seen really connect with the horse and build up her core strength. She gets therapy on and also around the horse, and she’s really developed her co-ordination and sensory skills as well. I also have another client who has come a long way in connecting with herself emotionally and building her own identity. She’s really come out of her shell and become a very confident, happy person. It’s incredible to see how much she has developed, and to then be able to better enjoy her life,” Anne-Katrin said.

“This is why I do what I do. I have a love and a passion for horses and people. It’s very encouraging, and I love the reward of it. I love seeing people experiencing the joy and the connections that they make.”
– BY VIRAG TOTH