A Desperately Needed Global Vision- Liskennett Farm, Limerick, Ireland
Looking at the Irish landscape that triggers imaginations of fox hunting and jumping large hedges in the mists, ditches, and walls on emerald green grounds, while enjoying a delicious traditional Irish stew for breakfast, feeling the true blessing of tranquility allowed yet by another incredible kind member of our Horse Boy tribe and family, David Doyle.
I could not sleep, because after just one day at Liskennett in Limerick, with all honesty, my mind was too excited and astonished to just go to rest. This man has taken true integration and equal opportunity to an entirely new level and should be an example for every other project in every other country to lean on his ideas.
I tried to understand how much psychology he had studied, how much pedagogy was in his background and had to notice that even though he has an amazingly interesting background- it wasn’t the expert knowledge I expected- his main inspiration, just like with Rupert, was personal! Ask him about it when you get a chance- but his ideas came from a truly deep passion of not just talking but putting hands-on where needed. This man can be put in front of Parliament to argue “rights and fairness” or you see him picking up horse manure the same day- with him you know, what needs to get done, gets done!
I believe it is that passion and an unusually big heart for all beings that make his projects- I should not even say that- his visions- possible!
When I flew into Dublin and took a two-and-a-half-hour bus ride into Limerick, it did not bother me that we were delayed on the highway. The peaceful lush green fields, with hedges, obviously jumped, sheep and cobs specking the grounds gave a sigh of relief that one had a bit of time and the luxury to breath. David picked me up, and so often with these adventures, we ended up straight at the barn and facilities- because that was after all that I was excited to see.
I had seen many pictures, many of you have heard me praise his creative ideas about environment makeovers, and of course many have seen the horse bombproof videos that have now been shown across the globe. David and I had met in Texas at the beginning of my journey with this tribe, and we met one time at a very memorable tribe meet in Germany. We all remember (more or less) the excellent Whiskey that David imported for this occasion…
But being here and seeing it with my own eyes and experiencing the work that is being done has been on my unwritten bucket list, and just after day one, the value of what I have seen is much more than anyone will ever be able to describe with pictures and words.
Of course, there is the horse side of the program. A solid mixture of over 40 horses, all extremely happy looking in the green fields of Limerick, bombproof for the folks they work with and charming demeanor- they make you unable to judge, put on your critical equestrian hat and look for certain qualities, they have these warm curious eyes, ready for a job and are all heart- almost impossible to see anything else- not surprising: they go through a lengthy ”Interview Process” with David and only the ones he seems fit for the program get to stay and spend their life at this lovely safe haven. Another fascinating story you should not miss when you meet David in person- I have never heard of a more effective process of selecting horses for a very demanding and rewarding program.
I have worked with David and his staff now for over two years. With COVID things slowed down a bit about what we could do, but his staff consistently worked through evaluations and kept their professional developments up. Even though restricted and challenged, they came up with ways to continue service for the folks in need. Meeting a majority now in person has been a blessing. We all know what a challenge it is to find horse people who are also human people, and human people who are also horse people- again, David has a hand for this- it is a true pleasure observing and working with his people- best evidence is not just seeing their work, but seeing the engagement of the families they work with and the fitness and happiness of the horses- what a testimonial! Of course, I could write so much more, but I guess that will have to wait for another time.
One conversation that really resonated and very well will impact my presentations and training was when David generously took time out of his impossibly busy day (I swear this man figured out how to put 48 hours into one day). He showed me the residential area. Liskennett offers housing for over 70 residents on the property. So unlike many of us who service younger folks, he took it a step further and is servicing the adult as well with work opportunities and residency. When we walked through an amazingly thought through concept of re-integration and support, one sentence he said struck me: “We NEVER lock the doors- they are NEVER locked in”…pictures of de-escalation rooms, ‘quiet rooms, mental facilities came to my mind- too many of which I have now observed myself; for many parents that is the most devastating information when their child gets ‘locked in isolation’- Liskennett was so unlike what I knew. Even the institution my aunt who had down syndrome lived in, the facility my nephew who was autistically resided, and the old folks home my grandmother had her final days were never a “home”- they were just institutions- often even creatively cutely designed, but still institutions with the options to lock at “in danger clients” in-, therefore, took self- advocacy out of the picture, stripped them of the basic human right of freedom and for sure took the last bit of dignity possibly still existed- AND the chance to reintegrate and be able to enter a more happy, independent free life. David and his team are making it work! Nobody ever gets locked in- rather offered more support where needed in whatever form is needed. The residencies are homes, apartments I would move into in a heartbeat- cozy lovingly furnished, and designed with access to the horses all day long if needed and wished for. Nature trails are open 24/7 which some folks use even at night because it is a need they have. This combination of lovingly designed conceptual ideas brings an immensely positive impact that is worth looking at for anybody who is an advocate and visionary for true integration and acceptance. He is now also growing his concepts and ideas in various places all over Ireland- it is a strong growing need where David can provide answers and is now also growing these concepts all over Ireland.
I have only been here one day, got the honor to wander about with a lovely child and pony whose smile (yes, the pony smiled too) made me realize I needed to sit down and get this message out NOW. For those kids, for those in need, I would love for folks to get to know more about what is done here and spread the word globally- the ideas, concepts, and implementation are outstanding! It cannot be that such effective work can only be done in a small pocket in Ireland- it is already all developed and thought through- what can work and I am sure many lessons learned from what cannot- have a look online, visit, chat with us, but amazing work like this needs to be shared for the benefit of many!
I want to finish with a brief paragraph of gratefulness. I am grateful to David and his Team including his lovely family who had to share David yet again with another visitor- I felt at home and so warmly welcomed and will seek Christmas pudding every winter season from now on after being introduced to it by David’s lovely wife- I am sure I could have just stayed.
Rupert who made all this possible since October 2017- there are no words…
And of course, my family who gave me wings to fly and are in support of my crazy visions, missions, and lifestyle- looking forward to seeing them for a trip to the mountains over the holidays.
On this note, I hope you will also have a lovely winter season with loved ones, friends, and visionaries surrounding you- refresh your energy, and let’s continue to make the positive changes we all would like to see!