My primary motivation for creating a new website was to celebrate the experiences of my wonderful clients. I am so thankful to know every one of these women. They have taught me so much! I thought others might draw inspiration and consider exploring possiblities for health, healing, fun and fitness at Galleywinter. Here are just a few of their stories. Enjoy!
"I found Gail when I relocated to Charlottesville from Baltimore seeking a healthier lifestyle. I had no idea what a difference she would make in my life. Her holistic perspective has enhanced my physical health, my sense of well being and my professional life. As a longtime career coach and lover of horses myself, I have been able to connect the dots between horses and health through Gail's tutelage. Her deep knowledge of horses and humans combine with her remarkable gift for mentoring to make her mere presence a touchstone for me. Working with Gail has transformed my life. Just having her in my life – as coach, friend, horse teacher - creates a sense of well-being, a sense that I can do it, which permeates all the aspects of my life. - Susan
“It helps to think of nourishing myself as a practice. I was aware today that I have thought of eating more as a necessary evil---just an interruption so that I can keep going toward the good stuff-- rather-than a process that has inherent value, especially as it comes to taking care of myself. Now as I start to make the connection, food takes on a different quality; it becomes a means to honor my own wellbeing---I know you have been telling me this for a while in many different ways but I’m just getting it. The horse work translates to how I view my relationship with food. When I think of the "ritual" of tacking up Dulci or inviting Blaze to be haltered, I can apply that same patience and reverence to the "ritual" of feeding my body. If I’m impatient with doing this for myself ultimately I will be impatient in all that I do. This is a sort of settling down that we have talked about. It's a quality that you seem to have given to your horses. I need to take the same time with me that you teach us to take with them."
"As an acupuncturist of 24 years, I often give workshops on healing and Taoist philosophy. My recent series was hosted by Gail Todter at her Galleywinter Farm in western Albemarle County. The setting and grounds were lovely and well tended. The mix of gardens, horse pastures, and wooded surroundings held the workshop participants in rich natural beauty and close connection to nature. I found it to be a blend of Zen retreat and working Equine Center. If you are looking for a place to host a workshop in a lovely natural setting I highly recommend Galleywinter Farm." - Michael Jabalee L. Ac.
“It was as if angels guided me up that slow, winding driveway to Galleywinter Farm. The slow approach gave me time to soak in the peacefulness of nature, creatures and humans during the workshop I was attending. I felt so comfortable, so at home. I knew this farm, Gail and the horses were going to become a major part of my life. I never before had experienced such balance and unity as Galleywinter Farm had to offer. I was wrapped in the arms of all of its goodness and warmth. Boarding my horse Sable at Galleywinter provided the perfect setting for a partnership and bonding that changed forever.” Jody
"I was working with Felipe in the round pen the other day. He seemed so much more aware than I was, yet perfectly willing to try and be responsive to ME. He was so immediately responsive to whatever I did: I stared at his hindquarters and he moved them; he started to come in and I waved my hand and he stayed out on the circle; I relaxed my attention while he was trotting and he dropped down to a walk. I asked him to come in----and he came in. But there was more than I can describe, too--he was listening on some other levels, that he knew much better than I. His awareness of the shifts in my energy was immediate and clear, and humbling."
"I felt that I was being heard on deep levels. He was paying attention to levels of my being that seem subtle to me, and responding to them as if they are perfectly obvious. And with a heartbreaking eagerness to meet them with what he has to offer." Max
"Gail Todter has been a tremendous resource for us at Toad Hollow Farm. She has provided us with all kinds of insights into how to work with our horses effectively and compassionately. She has come over to give both individual and group lessons on ground work, and has helped us with starting young horses, improving our interactions with older horses, and redirecting undesirable behaviors such as pulling, chewing, and not standing. Gail helped me start both my mare Isobella and gelding Dougal when they were very young. These two horses have very different personalities, and required different strategies to help them understand what was being asked of them. Gail came up with very effective methods to work with each. Isobella, in particular, was very resistant to direction, did not want to stand still, and performed airs above the ground when asked to walk calmly at my side. Through a series of both group and individual lessons over the space of two months, Gail helped me to patiently keep asking and redirecting without fighting her energy, until Isobella came to understand, and was very happy to work with me. Gail treats both horse and owner with utmost respect and compassion. I recommend her highly! " Ann Sutherland, Toad Hollow Farm, Crozet
"If you are an older woman new to horses or maybe returning after years away, you will appreciate Gail's thoughtful, deliberate and gentle approach to horse handling and riding. When I began riding 30 years ago, lessons were "get on, sit up straight, heels down, hold the reins just so. Back then I took lessons for just 2 years, with nothing much in the way of riding to speak of since then. Now, older, more cautious, more creaky, I return to a love I thought had passed me by. I was wary about starting again. My great good fortune to find Gail Todter. With Gail, we back up and learn about the horse: body language, communication, how to ask for movement from the ground. When we are ready and actually mount, there are already many tools in the toolbox.
" What surprised me was how much I enjoy just being with the horses with no agenda, no goal; how I managed to get that saddle up in spite of the darn back; how much more relaxed and comfortable I am no matter what we're doing today -- groundwork, bareback, in the saddle, taking a walk or just hanging out. I have been so grateful for Gail's flexibility and support when it comes to my goals, both short and long term, as well as her great concern for my safety and that of the horse. Gail is an instructor who is extremely skilled, capable and listens to your needs. At Galleywinter Farm, you will learn to be safer with the horses, more confident around them and much better prepared to proceed with whatever goals you have for your relationship with the horse. And it's not just your relationship with the horse that blossoms, it's your relationship with yourself, too." - C.J
"Individual lessons using my own horse at Galleywinter Farm proved to be a turning point in my relationship with both four-legged and two-legged creatures. A dream of mine came true - riding bareback with just a neck rope on the horse. " I didn't think life could get any better than this, but it has!"
"On my closet door was taped a picture of a woman riding a horse bareback, holding onto the horse’s mane with no ropes, halters, bridles. Every day I looked at the picture and told myself that I would be doing that someday. I learned to connect with Sable in the round pen and we made a great team! With Gail’s gentle guidance, I rode Sable at a trot in the round pen – bareback, with nothing but her mane to hold onto – giving signals to her through my thoughts and body language. Wow! What a feeling that was! This is how I rode a neighbor’s horse when I was about 10 years old. It was then I realized the connection to my inner child - I felt the innocence and true love that I had for horses. Once it surfaced again, I nurtured it for years to come." Jody
Buying a Horse
"Buying a horse is a huge decision! Gail helped me go through ads, look at photos and videos and evaluate conformation, disposition and suitability for my purposes. She came with me to look at several horses I had considered and walked me through the decision process. I now have my precious horse. I am so grateful for Gail's patience and thoroughness and for sometimes having the difficult task of pushing me to let my head win over my heart, reminding me what my ultimate goals were." C.A.
Horse as Teacher Inner Strength Workshops
"The idea of getting in the arena with no halter, no lead rope, was scary. However illusory that feeling you get that, because a horse is wearing a halter, you have some sort of control, the feeling is still there, so the idea of getting in with nothing was challenging. And yet, when it worked, when I was able to get into the arena and have positive interaction with the horse I was working with, it was incredibly rewarding, and went a long way towards giving me the confidence I needed to take the next step and the next step, and not just in terms of working with the horses, but in pursuing yoga, or starting to work out, or anything that needed to be done. It’s interesting how it has spread into all areas of my life, giving me the confidence I need to – not become a different person, but to become who I have always been but was afraid to be, and afraid to show that to other people. It’s been very interesting to see how it seeps into all areas of my life." T.J.
"I keep coming back to that sense of release, of opening…………..and of having the depth of my experience verified by another. There was a joy in opening to all these things that I often keep closed, and also of having them validated and shared. There is something about simply being heard by another being that seems like relief and which seems like part of why we seek "connection." I had never imagined the possibility of that particular kind of being heard, that the whole of the subtlest tuned-in parts of my experience could possibly be a communication." M.K.
"This group was a revelation to me. I had never worked in a group before, because of assumptions I made about how I would feel – that I might find it necessary to take on everyone else’s burdens and try to fix their problems for them. Gail and I discussed this beforehand, and I went into the classes mindful of that tendency, and determined not to carry anyone’s weight but my own. Having “permission” to focus on myself and the horse was liberating and allowed me to tune in to what the work meant to me. I feel I covered a good bit of ground on my way back to the horse, and overcame fears that had become entrenched after frightening experiences with a horse in my past." T.J.
"The whole day was magical.....There was so much I learned that day - but one moment that meant a lot to me had to do with some work that I’d been doing with Gail on it being okay to take care of myself. When we meditated in the afternoon, flat on our backs on the mats, eyes closed and trying to focus on what was going on inside of us, someone came around and gently placed a blanket on me. When they draped the blanket over me and tucked me in, I felt like a child who had just been cared for by a parent. One of my goals had been to rediscover joy, and in that moment I realized that what I really wanted to reclaim was that childlike way of looking at the world. In that instant I realized I wanted to take care of myself the way I would take care of a child but I also wanted to give myself permission to be nurtured by other people. That was a revelatory moment for me." T.J.
"One round pen session, just me and a horse in a 60-foot circular enclosure, taught me more about myself and life in general than any books or people could have taught me in a lifetime. Validation….of myself, my beliefs and my life as I wished to live it evolved from that 20 minutes or so, facing a 1,000 pound animal head-on. All I had to do was listen; listen to the horse, to myself, to my spirit, which would lead me to listen to others in a way I never have.” Jody
"There is a stillness about the horse. Their inner being is so perfectly still that it provides the medium for all possibility..... instant alertness, ability to assess situations, deep rest, profound communication. In that stillness all internal chatter abates. How does this influence my everyday experiences? I approach life with an open mind. I look to understand what is, rather then project my personal impressions. I look to be in step with the world rather then try and control what is before me." Corey