Leeds author takes on lamb born with feet twisted backwards to support therapy work for people with terminal illness

A Leeds author is working towards creating a farm-based therapy centre for terminally ill people. Laura Reid speaks to her as she takes on two sheep to join her horses.

Two months have passed since Leeds author Grace Olson published a book about how rekindling a connection with horses helped to lift her out of postnatal depression.

She’s sold more than 1,000 copies in that time and speaks of the heartwarming messages she’s received from readers.

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Some tell her they feel inspired to improve their own wellbeing by doing more of the things they love.

Grace Olson with lamb Bambi. Photo: Soni DaviesGrace Olson with lamb Bambi. Photo: Soni Davies
Grace Olson with lamb Bambi. Photo: Soni Davies

Others are grateful to be able to read an honest account of mental health struggles in motherhood.

A self-published author, Grace is proud of those achievements, but perhaps most rewarding, is that because of income from the book sales, Grace can now afford to support a person living with terminal illness for free.

The Yard: How A Horse Healed My Heart is the culmination of a life full of ponies and horses and I will use the profits from sales to go towards a farm-based therapy centre for the terminally ill,” she says.

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“I currently use a range of therapies to treat cancer patients and it is my life’s dream to be able to provide a haven with farm animals to help seriously ill people return to nature.”

Grace, who lives in Moortown, is a massage therapist and certified coach and mentor.

She had ridden horses in her youth but rekindled her love for the animals when she began working with a show-jumper who came to her with a back problem.

At the time, Grace’s postnatal depression was lifting, but she found being with horses therapeutic; it was the final piece in her healing jigsaw.

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Grace now uses horses to help people with illness find inner peace and joy, taking them to her field to support them to find calm in nature or in interacting with the animals.

This week, she’ll be taking on two sheep too. One, called Bambi, was born in Eldwick with his back feet twisted around the wrong way.

But thanks to the efforts of a hairdresser on the family farm where he is currently based, who bottle fed him daily and massaged his legs, he was able to stand by seven weeks and is now walking. “When I first met him, he came straight up to me for cuddles and that was it, I just fell in love with him instantly,” Grace says.

“He’s so cute. He loves cuddles and kisses and having his ears scratched. He’s just gorgeous.”

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Grace is also taking on a second sheep, called Merlin, who developed an ear infection and had to be separated from the herd and placed with Bambi.

“For people to interact with farm animals is quite amazing,” Grace says. “To stroke and cuddle sheep in itself is therapeutic.

People who come to our field will have talking therapy at the same time as being with our horses and sheep.”

Grace is now on with writing a second book - and it’s likely Bambi and Merlin will feature in her future writing.

“I love writing but it’s not just for me,” she says. “My desire is to help more people access the work I do, even if they can’t afford it.”

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