Irena Gubina

Riding InstructorHead of Equine Training and Co-therapist in Youth Health Resort RakitnaNature lover and authentic relationship seekerResearcher of holistic approach to horse training and riding

Irena Gubina is nature lover and authentic relationship seeker. This principle is interlaced into her love of horses and her training or teaching approach.

Her first contact with horses happened in teenage years at the Struga Equestrian Club in Otočec. These majestic responsive animals enchanted Irena so much that she dedicated most of her youth time to them. Growing up she was involved in several equestrian disciplines: show-jumping, galloper and trotter training, trail riding, and dressage (last at the Lipica Stud Farm).

Within these disciplines Irena learned different approaches to horse training. These approaches, though, didn’t involve a holistic view of the horse or the subtle communication and mutual relationship between rider and horse. Equestrianism, more often than not, regards the horse as a biological machine, a prop to be brought to obedience with different repressive methods in order to attain personal goals and make profit, at the expense of the horse’s health and nature.

In 2007, Irena has moved to a farmstead in Senožeče, where she started to breed her own herd of Lipizzaners. Breeding young horses took her on the path of self-learning and researching a different approach to horse training and riding. This has developed also thorough research of literature and video material on biomechanics, classical dressage training, and seminars on equestrianism both in Slovenia and abroad.

In last 13 years Irena is continually developing Holistic approach to horse training and riding using Bitless bridle. The base of her approach is subtle communication with the horse where by learning and practicing it one awakes and shapes his own subtle qualities as well.

References: Riding instructor (Slovenian Equestrian Academy), Head of Equine Training an Co-Therapist in Youth Health Resort Rakitna, Racing horses trainer, Member of EAGALA (Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association), Ethology Academy SA graduate, Student of Evolutive Naturopathy, Continuous professional development at seminars …

Lipizzaner Lodge

Irena Gubina cooperates with Lipizzaner Lodge, offering high quality bitless dressage riding on pure bred Lipizzaners. She leads continuous education in Bitless Holistic Approach to training and riding horses. Bitless riding lessons are taught individualy on different levels. Experienced riders can book for riding in the nature as well.

Holistic approach to training and working of Therapeutic Horses

Irena works in Youth Health Resort Rakitna since 2016 as Head of Equine Training and as Co-Therapist in EAP/EAL (Equine Assisted Psychotherapy / Equine Assisted Learning) therapy programs.

Various height, colour, gender and age of therapeutic horses represent an important tool in EAP/EAL sessions, as this motivates the wards to find their unique metaphors in relating to or observing the horses.

Calm, affable character and low occurrence of flight-response are the main attributes of therapeutic horses. It means that they are naturally curious. Different requisites used in therapy as cones, balls, rings as well as sudden movements of people should not represent a threat to them. Stable, bold behaviour is expected in facing usual environmental stimuli and calm acceptance when introducing the new ones.

This characteristics are reinforced by desensitization training in order to minimize the possibility of accidents due to instinctive behaviour of the animal.

Beside that therapeutic horses are trained hour and a half before every session using classical dressage techniques that aim to straighten and supple their bodies. Exercises consist of carefully lead stretches and postures in all movements of the horse in order to develop endurance, heighten the tolerance and prolong the ability to focus in horses. Regular training is also a base routine to develop and maintain reciprocal trust and reliability between horses and members of the therapeutic team.

Carefully build relationship between horse and facilitator represents a crucial safety element in sessions when horses are confronted with variety of emotional states in wards. Those states will less likely affect or destabilize the horses if they feel the reliability and support from facilitator near-by.

In all training or riding/leading session activities with therapeutic horses we use Bitless Bridle Holistic Approach as applicable and safe method.

By application of holistic approach in training and care of therapeutic horses, their individual expression is maintained as it represents an important tool in EAP/EAL sessions.

Horses are great medium for relaxation, they awake the willingness to open inward since they represent a challenge and at the same time stir desire to search for the contact. Socializing with horses offers an opportunity to conquer one’s fears, horses enhance qualities as decisiveness, clarity, focus and empathy. They sense emotional states of the human and express it by mirroring them. By support of facilitators wards can, with the help of the horse, become aware of their unsuitable conduct in order to change or adjust it by searching for their own solutions.

By living this experience a feeling of self-confidence, trust and wellbeing sprouts thus willingness to share and develop one’s inner world grows.