posted on May 22nd, 2020

Horse-assisted workshops to help overcome stress and anxiety

With concerns rising over the impact the COVID-19 pandemic may have on people’s mental health and a recent survey* revealing one third of adults are worried about finances, such as bill payments and debts, June Burgees has a novel way of helping people cope with stress.

Based at Ballygraffan, Comber on the shores of Belfast Lough, June runs equine assisted workshops and for the past six years she and her horses have worked with a variety of clients enabling them to overcome the challenges of everyday life and in particular, PTSD, through her business Horses For People.

Living in such a relaxing environment and being surrounded by horses and wildlife has always been June’s secret weapon for tackling stress and maintaining a balanced perspective on life while working in a busy corporate environment.

June, a TEDx speaker, discovered that many others had recognised the mental and physical benefits of this combination of a stress-free environment and horses as facilitators and that particularly in USA, Equine Assisted Learning was widely recognised as an effective approach for corporate leadership training, mental health challenges, drug rehabilitation and combating stress in general.

With the hospitality sector facing potential losses of £1.1billion and almost 16,000 jobs, June, the former owner of The Fitzwilliam Hotel understands only too well the stress those in the sector must currently be under and their concerns for the future.

June explains: “We’re facing a challenge like no other and with so much of what’s happening beyond our control it’s only natural to be experiencing feelings of stress and anxiety which is why it’s more important than ever to prioritise our mental wellbeing.

“Horse-assisted workshops can help to overcome stress and anxiety, build confidence and self-esteem and remind you how powerful you really are. They are of benefit to anyone who would like to learn more about themselves and how others perceive them and acquire tools to thrive regardless of challenges or circumstances.”

There is no riding involved in the workshops – the personal insights are gained through a series of ground-based exercises, interacting with the horses. Each exercise demonstrates existing behaviours, reactions and thought patterns and once highlighted, these can be changed.

June offers one-to-one coaching, adhering to social distancing during lockdown and group workshops will resume when it is safe to do so. June has also created special workshops, specifically to help business people cope with uncertainty, focus on the way forward and rebuild teams.

For further information visit


June Burgees

*Survey results from the Coronavirus: Mental Health in the Pandemic.project led by the Mental Health Foundation