On Sat., Nov. 18, the Winchester Christmas Market took over a portion of St. Lawrence Street, and with traffic being detoured, both sides of the road were lined with vendors offering the results of their efforts over the past few months. Santa and Mrs. Claus were happy to pose for a photo with anyone who happened by, and this included some with four feet. Zelda, who posed for this photo, showed little interest in leaving after having positioned herself next to Mrs. Claus. See page 3 for the full story. Tinkess Photo
WINCHESTER – Winchester is one community that has figured out how to make their downtown work as a destination worth visiting. It doesn’t matter the season, there is always something happening, and when the weather turns a bit colder in November, you just dress warmer and walk faster because there is still so much to see.
Last Sat., Nov. 18, the Winchester Christmas Market took over a portion of St. Lawrence Street, and with traffic being detoured, both sides of the road were lined with vendors offering the results of their efforts over the past few months. If you were looking for unique ideas for Christmas gifts or an interesting home décor item, you wouldn’t be disappointed as there was a lot to choose from.
There were, however, other vendors that you probably wouldn’t find anywhere else. One of these was Equi-Soul, Horses for the soul.
The first thing to know about Equi-Soul is that they do not offer formal riding lessons. Their program focuses on mental wellness and emotional regulation. There is something transformational about partnering with an animal that while being so powerful, can, at the same time, be so gentle.
Equi-Soul has a herd of nine horses, primarily rescues from different backgrounds, that encourages the bonding of a person with the individual animal. Interaction occurs through various sessions for all ages and needs. These include couples’ sessions, sessions for those dealing with PTSD, wellness retreats, grief, and bereavement sessions and even horse guided yoga. It’s a different approach to mental wellness that can be suitable for those who don’t feel well served by traditional treatment.
Amber Denis is a coach and facilitator at Equi-Soul. She explains how the approach they use can be inviting. “It makes sense for a lot of people, especially those that can try traditional therapy, and it just wasn’t comfortable for them, especially in a small room,” said Denis. “So being outside in nature, they have nothing but open space around the horses. And that’s it, there’s no neighbours, so there’s no need to worry about somebody over here and what’s going on. We’re very secluded, right? So, it really helps make them feel more comfortable.”
Heading south on St. Lawrence St. you can hear a live band jamming outside the Planted Arrow Florist. The four-member band (two guitars, drums and a lead singer) were doing what they could to keep warm, but that in no way affected their music, which was a mix of genres that most people would recognize. The lead singer, IssaBel, for who the band is named, has a voice well suited for music you want to hear lyrics to. Quite a few people stopped to listen, and many ended up staying longer than they had intended. The power of music!
When the music ended, Santa and Mrs. Claus made an appearance, posing for photos with anyone who stopped by. This included a few four-legged creatures, including Zelda, who wasn’t particularly interested in leaving once she had positioned herself next to Mrs. Claus.
There was a steady stream of traffic throughout the day. As some would leave, they would be replaced by others who had only just arrived. As three o’clock approached, the process of packing up began and another busy day in downtown Winchester wrapped up, only to be replaced at some point in the future with another reason to visit. The organizers and the community they support will be ready to greet them.
Terry Tinkess is a professional photographer, educator and journalist. He has been making a living with a camera and keyboard since 1999 and has been featured in such publications as The Ottawa Citizen, Cornwall Standard Freeholder, The Globe and Mail, The Miami Herald, Ottawa Construction News, The Ontario Construction Report, Ontario Home Builder Magazine, Reed Construction Data, Canadian Potato Business and most recently, The Record and Eastern Ontario AgriNews. Terry lives in Ingleside, Ontario with his wife Brenda, Mia the anxious Pittie and cats Wally and Chubbers.