There's an easy silence among the group as Felicity Corrigan starts to guide our attention to our surrounds.
There's a restfulness to her small property nestled among undulating hills, stands of majestic old gum trees and distant views to the Hume Dam.
Somehow you already sense this is a safe space.
Her daughter Pearl's kitten purrs loudly, insistently and someone picks her up for a pat.
We are invited to feel our feet anchored to the ground, to listen, to smell, and to see.
And, as we observe the horses grazing around us, we are asked to breathe out, modelling the animals' own "out breath".
Almost unconsciously our focus is drawn to their movements; the contented munching of hay, an ear flicking at a fly, a tail swished suddenly in anger followed by a swift kick aimed at a companion venturing too close ...
Then the out breath - and calm is restored.
In observing the horses, there is so much we can learn about ourselves, Felicity says.
"Horses are herd, play and prey animals," she says.
"By watching them, we learn awareness - how the choices you make keep you safe, about setting boundaries for what is okay for you and what isn't - it will keep you safe with the horses and in life."
This is not a 'one-session, see-you-later, you're-right-to-take-on-the-world affair'.Felicity Corrigan
A lifetime of experience with people, places and animals has brought Felicity to this ... her dream to run an equine assisted learning program that helps children and adults heal from trauma.
To be able to stop awhile, re-set and re-gather away from this action-driven human race.
The process is gentle, almost imperceptible until you talk to those who've found peace in its pathways.
Take 72-year-old returned serviceman Bill (not his real name) from the Riverina.
A dapper, well-spoken man with decades of stock work and horse experience in his veins who admits "I started the course not knowing I was even a part of it".
"She opened the book; somehow I told Felicity things I haven't told anyone - she's a rare person," he admits.
It was in the safe space created sitting with nature, observing the horses - the subtle clues of their incredible strength and fragility - that Bill found his voice.
To speak of the atrocities, the rage and 40 years of pain that haunted his return from the Vietnam War.
"I came home to people who weren't proud of what you've done for your country," he says.
"I remember my father-in-law taking me to the RSL at Wangaratta and them telling me I can't join; that was nationwide.
"It took me years to become a plumber and 9 months to be a soldier."
In the process you lose some of the best bits of yourself, Bill says.
"Some people blow up in the first 12 months of civvy life; some take 40 years," he reflects.
"Going to war is like us all standing here and seeing a car crash; no one has the same experience of what actually happened.
"I kept my secrets for about 50 years and I'm lucky my wife stood by me because it destroys families."
Bill says he is fitter - in mind and body - than he's been but he's still working on it.
"After I get squared up I'm hoping to help other Diggers that need a lift," he says cheerfully.
Felicity never expected to help returned servicemen or women in her original vision for Diamond Sustainable Health.
At the conclusion of the 30-week course and exam with the Equine Psychotherapy Institute, her plan was to work one on one with primary-age children.
While that is still part of her focus, as her work with Bill evolved she realised the huge benefits of supporting front-line workers grappling with high stress.
Whether it's the armed forces, nurses, doctors, emergency services or caseworkers, "the front line is the front line", Felicity says.
"It's triggering and traumatising."
At the heart of the program is developing skills to self-regulate by observing and interacting with horses.
"Horses demonstrate so many of the key qualities we need for calmness and regulation; they clearly express their feelings and needs and whether they are seeking support or space," Felicity explains.
Equine assisted learning (EAL) is not a magic wand.
"I'm not a counsellor, I'm not a psychologist," Felicity states.
"This is not a 'one-session, see-you-later, you're-right-to-take-on-the-world affair'."
Sessions typically last an hour and people come as often as they need.
On Wednesday Felicity met with indigenous stakeholders from the Department of Education and Gateway Health to see where the program might work for these agencies.
"I see this as a resource for teachers, caseworkers and front-line workers; if they can take these tools back to their students, clients or workplaces, it can change their whole perspective," she says.
"If you can master the ability to just sit (or stand) and be present in your environment, to notice what is happening to your body as you anchor yourself to the sound of a bird or the horses munching ...
"You can learn to ground yourself, to self-regulate."
The science of EAL lies in the neural pathways of the middle prefrontal cortex associated with emotional regulation, empathy, compassion, fear, responsive action, attuned communication and natural morality.
But it's not the technicalities that teach.
Felicity is still surprised by what happens when people just stop and, literally, smell the roses.
"When you take in not only the horses, but the birds, the hills, the water, there is a calming effect of being grounded to your environment," she explains.
"You can sit with your anger, grief, happy tears, or frustration, and over time you learn how to allow those feelings come up ... and let them be."
- For more information about the program email email@example.com