Scilla has had a life-long, love of, and experience with horses to create a rich and textured fabric to now support the diverse needs of those who seek her help.
Having been involved in pony club and eventing competiton as her sons grew up, Scilla continued to develop her own horsemanship while passing on her knowledge in the ‘Softly Softly’ style she became known for. She regularly teaches pony club and adult riding groups, showing them the benefits of riding bitless as well as introducing them to the fun of Le Trec and the excitement and challenge of inclusive equestrian vaulting.
Scilla recently established Chiron Programs, a service which offers ‘equine-facilitated therapy, education and re-creation’ for people using horses, in partnership with Michael Drell (who is trained in this kind of nature-based therapy, and also doing postgraduate study and working in the youth sector). Scilla’s training in the relatively new field of equine-facilitated therapy and education has taken her to Victoria, Queensland, Minnesota, New Zealand, and the UK.
Scilla says “I believe that horses have a power that is uniquely transformative when humans are alive to their essentially ‘wild’ nature. This belief is based on personal experience of life-changing insight and personal development that has occurred when I have walked many differing paths in companionship with horses. If we are ever ‘lifted by them’ (a phrase given to me by a young man from Burundi who described the excitement of his first ride during one of our programs in this way), it is an enormous privilege. There are times when I find it painful and confronting to see them even domesticated and trapped in paddocks. I acknowledge that the evolutionary accident that gave horses a willing temperament, a back broad enough to carry a human and a gap in their teeth where a piece of metal could be placed to harness their speed, probably saved them from extinction. Many would argue that that would have been better than the pain and trauma horses experience as financial investments or extensions of our egos, as many race or performance horses are.
Personally we each have to find where our own ethical ‘line’ and I remain vigilant to any signs in my horses that the work I ask them to do is affecting them adversely – physically or emotionally. I am totally committed to ‘bitless riding’ and this conscientious objection to the use of metal in the mouth of my horses now excludes me from the mainstream equestrian world of competition where bits are still compulsory in many disciplines. I am horrified by many training methods and instruction that I see used on horses and young riders.
The fundamental values on which any horse/human connection or interaction facilitated through my work is based are: Compassion, Respect, Humility, Patience, and Gratitude.”
Scilla lives in southern Tasmania and started up the Leslie Vale Bitless Buddies group.
Scilla reports: “I will be travelling to the USA (based in Minneapolis, Minnesota) for July and to Scotland (staying in Ayrshire and spending time in the Scottish Borders, near Duns) for August. I have not organised any specific clinics as yet, but if there are newsletter readers who are interested in connecting and having a session, workshop or clinic at their stable or barn, could they send me an email and I will see what I can do to help out.” firstname.lastname@example.org