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A Living Canvas: Horsing Around at Miraval Resorts

"Oooooo heaven's a place on earth" ~Belinda Carlisle

Happy Self-Care Saturday, Friends!

A year ago, I was Horsing Around during my solo trip to Miraval Resorts, Austin.

I connected with my inner artist and painted Sage, a retired horse. The living canvas program is specifically for retired horses at Miraval. They're too old to ride on the Hill Country trails, so they participate in equine therapy sessions.

There were 3 of us in the Living Canvas class. After a brief introduction by the facilitator, Paula, we walked over to the horses. Pepper, one of the horses, backed away from us during our approach. Paula asked if anyone was fearful or afraid of horses because Pepper could sense the anxiety and from her movement, was telling her that she wasn't comfortable. One of the gals said that she was afraid of horses.

We started talking about why we wanted to participate in this activity. The lady who was afraid shared why she feared horses. As she opened up to us, Pepper inched over slowly. Eventually, Pepper stood next to us and was as relaxed as the other two horses. Horses are so fascinating! Annabel, the lady who shared her story, selected Pepper as her horse to paint on that day.

We used crayola washable paints (same safe paints that kids use). I unleashed my creative side as I painted one side of this gentle animal. The activity area was shaded with a variety of brushes and paints to use. The brush strokes were like mini-massage strokes for Sage’s muscles. I remember that I could feel Sage breathing when I was painting his side. And he moved a little while I was painting him -- a true living canvas!

Afterwards, we shampooed and rinsed our horses. It took longer than usual for me to wash the paint off Sage because most people only paint the middle section of the horse AND the blue or red paints weren’t washing off as easily on him. Rubbing the shampoo to get the paint off was another type of massage that the older horses enjoy and I think Sage enjoyed it! This therapeutic activity (limited to 6 per session) gives guests a unique and joyous way to engage with the older horses in a friendly, calming manner. This is one experience I'll never forget!

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