ReConnect Retreats – with Yourself, with Others and with Nature

Equine Guided Growth

If you are stressed to breaking point and desperately need to get away from it all, pack your bags and join me here in the sun-blessed south of France. for a residential transformational retreat. I live 90 minutes north of the Spanish border, in the foothills of the mighty Pyrénées mountains, in a 200-year-old French farmhouse with a small herd of free-range Friesian horses.

11225Bonjour, I’m Margaretha and with me in the picture is my soul-mare Belle. I live in the south of France with my Friesian horses, where I host residential retreats, including the confidence-boosting and stress-reducing Connect with Horses Mindfulness Meditation and the Reconnect with Nature by Walking the Camino de Santiago retreats (see below.)  I am also the author of 4 books, all horse-inspired, life-enriching and subtly French flavoured.

Choose from 4 unique residential retreats lasting from 5 – 14 days, as well as 2 virtual retreats:

Re-connect with Yourself and with Nature on a self-discovery pilgrimage walking the Camino de Santiago Wellness RetreatMore Info
Detox Your Body Detox Your Mind with Intermittent Fasting Weight loss and Wellness RetreatMore Info
Midlife Renaissance Retreat – Reconnect with Your Authentic SelfMore Info
Connect with Horses Mindfulness Meditation Retreat – dramatically lower your stress levels with the help of HorsesMore Info
Write Your Own Story while walking the Camino de Santiago de Compostella Retreat More Info
Claim and Create Your Magical Future Wellness Retreat (virtual)More Info
Enlightening and Life-enriching Christmas/New Year Retreat(virtual)More Info

Brandnew in 2022: Overnight with Friesian Horses and the Made-with-Love Breadbaking Ceremony on Sunday mornings

If you can’t make it to a retreat right away, click on the button below escape on a virtual visit to the south of France for instant stress relief:

Testimonials

Spending time in nature and moving during hours in the forest or in a field helped me see where I wanted to move in my life. I gained clarity about my direction, my projects and desires in different areas of my life. I got very enthusiastic and I love that feeling! During the evenings we shared dinner and had very interesting conversations, you gave me new ideas and new points of view that were really enriching. I liked listening to your wisdom and exchanging with you. Thank you for this experience! Barbara M.

My stay with you at your beautiful home exceeded all expectations. We had three wonderful days walking the Camino on routes that benefitted from your extensive knowledge of the area to take in all the beautiful surrounding scenery and adjust to a relaxed pace of life. You were an excellent and welcoming host and I am looking forward to returning to your little sanctuary of rest and relaxation. I really enjoyed our visit to you and have come away feeling the benefits. I enjoyed our conversations and your great insights, I think I can safely say that Nikki and I both managed to answer some of the questions that were playing on our minds and are now feeling that we’re on the right track for future successes in our lives. I really hope we can join you again and in the meantime wish you all the very best for your busy summer. Anna W.

A walking wonderland! I went on this retreat to reset and escape hectic city life for a few days. I liked that it was a well-balanced program. It was amazing to experience part of the Camino, and we walked through some breathtaking scenery. But there was also time to relax too, I read two books! And we did some yoga, meditation & breathing exercises. I came back feeling energised but also gained some clarity over some things I’d been wrestling with. The host is wonderful. We had some lovely chats over dinner. I can’t recommend her highly enough. Nikki S.

We wanted to write you this message to say hello to you and to thank you again for a wonderful time that we spent with you, Belle, Aurore, Tess and Arcadie. We find you a very warm person. We enjoyed so much talking to you, chilling on your lawn, walking with horses and admiring the tranquillity of your place. We’re both very grateful to have met you. Please, say hello to Ed and Riet for us. It was wonderful to meet them, too. They’re a lovely couple and lovely people. Thank you for giving us the idea of thinking (and, even better, writing it down) about what we’re grateful for in our lives. We’ve completed the list of 100. I even added some more. 😉
We’re sending you kind regards from Luxembourg where you’re always welcome, whenever you decide to come visit. 
Nina B

My stay with Margaretha was so enjoyable. Learning how to overcome my weight problems permanently with intermittent fasting was invaluable. My goal is in sight. Walks along the Camino were delightful and relaxing. Looking forward to a return visit. M. Ede

A huge thank you for making my retreat so special, it was without doubt one of the best weeks of my life. The experience was truly life-changing! G Sugden

Thank you so much for allowing me into your home for the last few days. Your kindness, patience and generosity have touched me deeply. The time that Belle, Aurore and Tess let me spend with them and the lessons they taught me have been truly healing and extremely cathartic. You have created something really unique and magic here and I am in awe of the power of it. May it always bring you as much peace and fulfillment as it did me. With deep gratitude, A Campbell

EM

“Thanks again for sharing your life with us! I had such a wonderful time at your place and in your company. I feel revitalised, relaxed and blessed. All the best and big hugs for you and all the cats, horses and dog.” E.G. Meijling

SMurphy

“A powerful and wonderful life experience, with caring guidance by Margaretha. One can truly experience a mindful meditation with the horses who are definitely spiritual. Also, your senses become reinvigorated with the beautiful food and wine, whilst sitting and listening to the unique sound of nature’s calmness.” S. Murphy

Thank you so much for a wonderful week. The way you welcomed me was heart-warming. I find myself often dreaming about your piece of paradise and all my new friends there. Margaretha- I learned so much for which I thank you! CM Munroe

My wife and I have spent 4 amazing days at Margaretha’s house and we had a bliss. She is such a warm person and it was so nice to talk to her over brunch and dinner. Her house is clean and it smells lovely. Every dinner that we had there was so very delicious! One can completely relax and unwind at Margaretha’s place as it is peaceful and filled with good energy. All her three horses are such gentle souls, even though they may seem veeery big. On Easter Sunday we had an enjoyable brunch with two of Margaretha’s friends, a lovely couple. There are so many vineyards within walking distance from the property so one can have beautiful walks. Besides these walks, there is also an option to walk a part (around 10 kilometres, maybe a bit more) of the Saint Jacques de Compostelle walkway. For those who like a bit of adrenaline, there is a city called Nogaro 3 kilometres away which is famous for its motorsport race track, called the Circuit Paul Armagnac. In short – we cannot but recommend visiting her oasis of tranquility. Igor S.

Thank you so much for the beautiful day on Saturday. It was a truly special and treasurable experience that I feel very lucky to have had. Your horses are such lovely characters and it was fun getting to know them a little. They have stayed in my mind. I would love to come back again…B. Gracias

I feel so incredibly lucky to have had this chance that worked out so amazingly in divine timing. I know that you are, yourself, going through a stressful time and so that is why I am even more grateful that despite that, you were there to help me through this transition. I am also inspired by you and how you have faced your challenges, and I appreciate so much that you are also so human, with vulnerabilities just like we all have. Thanks also for sharing these moments with me.  A Alyahya

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I will be eternally grateful for these memorable deep relaxing sincere moments of introspection with you & the horses. A real eye-opener! Thank you for everything. S Janssen

With so much uncertainty, it doesn’t make sense to plan any international travel just yet however painful that might be. It was because of that and my dire dire need to have a break that I did some research and the Universe pointed me in Margaretha’s direction. Not only did I have a truly wonderful time being totally looked after, but I have made a lovely new friend that I hope will be part of my life for a very long time. Margaretha offers a variety of retreat options and being the sole retreatant, I took a 10-day hybrid retreat with food, wine, walking, a weeny bit of yoga, some writing, horse stroking and as many interesting conversations as I wanted (or none if I wasn’t up for talking). I read (a whole book which I haven’t done for a very long time!), relaxed, slept and walked a couple of stretches of the Camino de Santiago. We visited a social community project where Margaretha volunteers (fantastic!) and I had lots of coffees and lunch with her friends. I even remember one saying “next time you come we’ll take you…” It was just what I needed to be made so welcome and spoiled. So a huge thank you Margaretha and to all the lovely people you introduced me to during my time in the Gers. If anyone is looking to catch their breath in a little corner of paradise with its own in-house angel, this is it. M Richards

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 I really needed the time to find myself again. After a few days there I started sleeping better, I feel more relaxed and I am dealing with my pain in a better way. Margarita was the best, she’s extremely accurate in what she does, great instincts. Definitely an experience that we should all have. Now I want to take my friend as well. I cannot express in here how much I learned about me and how to handle situations in my job. L Ramirez

More about Equine-facilitated Mindfulness

Equine-facilitated Mindfulness is a variant of Equine-assisted Experiential Learning, a results-focused approach to personal development that enables you to develop more successful problem-solving skills, communicate more effectively, build healthier relationships and significantly increase your self-confidence.

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“This new discipline helps even and especially those who have never been anywhere near a horse to boost their self-confidence dramatically. No riding is involved, all activities take place with participants feet firmly on the ground. All activities are followed by a debriefing session led by an experienced equine-assisted coach (moi) and a horse expert. Reasons for participants’ choices and behaviour, and the horses’ reactions to said behaviour and choices are discussed and parallels are drawn with real life. I have worked as a medical doctor for many years. I have yet to come across a more effective discipline to help people become more assertive, confident and positive about their future. So it is with great enthusiasm that I invite you to join me at our house in the south of France, 90 minutes south-east of Bordeaux, where we host our Connect with Horses residential equine-assisted personal development workshops.” Dr Margaretha Montagu

Maybe YOU have always loved or been intrigued by horses but are too scared to approach them? Or maybe you have had unfortunate experiences with horses but always remained drawn to them? Or you might be a horse rider who wants to overcome your fear of riding after a horse riding accident?

Equine-facilitated Mindfulness can help you:

  • communicate more effectively,
  • build stronger and more satisfying relationships,
  • feel better about yourself and dramatically increase your self-confidence,
  • be more assertive,
  • gain a solid sense of self-worth,
  • eradicate limiting beliefs that block your progress,
  • enhance your problem-solving skills,
  • thrive on change and challenges,
  • free yourself from immobilising fear,
  • discover and define your purpose in life,
  • deal with stress and avoid the dangerous effects, stress may have on your mental and physical health,
  • re-evaluate your life from a new perspective.

More about Equine-facilitated Mindfulness

More about Equine-guided Meditation

Equine-guided meditation is a mindfulness meditation method that is practised in the presence of one or more horses. Initially, when I started sharing this practice with our workshop participants, I decided to call it equine-facilitated meditation. My intention was that it would be a focused form of meditation, the horse serving as the focal point, instead of a candle, for example. I thought that the horse or horses would facilitate meditation in a passive way. I did not intend that the horse or horses would take an active role as in actually guiding the meditation.

To help our workshop participants reach that state of thoughtless awareness when the mind is calm, yet completely alert that I understand meditation to be, I usually start an equine-facilitated meditation session by directing them to a peaceful spot somewhere near the horses. I begin by asking them to concentrate on their breathing. At first, we breathe normally, gradually letting our breathing slow down until it is regular, smooth and slow.

I then ask them to focus their attention on one of our horses. I encourage them to engage all their senses and even imagine that they are in fact a horse, that they can see, hear, smell, feel and even taste what a horse sees, hears, smells, feels and tastes. I suggest that they imagine how it would feel to have four legs, four hooves and a tail. I ask them to imagine that they are seeing the world through a horse’s eyes, physically, mentally and sometimes metaphorically,

I encourage them to look at their individual problems as a horse would look at a problem, as a member of a herd, interdependently and individually. Sometimes, when I personally reach out to the horses, they respond in kind, offering me solutions to problems from their perspective. Guests are often surprised to find that when they are sitting near the horses, it is much easier to quieten their minds and enter the meditative state than it is at home. Especially if they do not have much meditation experience.

Horses’ ability to be at once fully present in their bodies, in their environment as well as in the moment, facilitates mindful meditation by giving us a perfect example to follow and to focus on. Our workshop participants found the sessions very useful and continued to practice equine-facilitated meditation at home, by imagining that they were still in the paddock with the horses or by watching a Youtube video made for this purpose. So it worked quite well, until the day I decided to add a loving-kindness meditation at the end of the session.

That day, everything changed. We were a small group, not more than six. We were sitting in a circle in the paddock closest to the lake. Belle, Bass, Aurore and Tess were with us in the paddock, grazing peacefully nearby. I lead the loving-kindness meditation, starting with the focus on each individual. I then moved the focus to a loved one. I then moved the focus to the horses. I asked the participants to send waves of loving-kindness to Belle, our boss mare. Before I had voiced the second sentence, Belle had walked over to us and was standing just outside the circle. She had never approached a circle before. It was intimidating because we were sitting flat on the ground and Belle is enormous: 1m65 at the withers. As I started the third sentence, she came over to me and made it quite clear that she intended entering the circle…

More about Equine-guided Meditation

Get in Touch

Thank you for visiting my website and blog. Enquiries of all kinds are welcome. I will respond to all e-mails asap, so if you don’t hear back from me within a reasonable time, please contact me again (sometimes e-mails disappear into black holes in cyberspace!) Your personal details are confidential and will not be sold, shared or distributed to any third party company.

I hope you enjoy browsing this site and return often. The site is updated frequently. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you would like to send me some feedback. I am always interested to hear the views of my visitors (positive or negative).

We are open during our summer months.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me should you require any further information. I speak English, French and passable Dutch – please feel free to write to me in any of these languages.

For general enquiries, please contact me on welcome2gascony@gmail.com or fill in the form below:

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