Alpaca Therapy in the Heart of the Chilterns
Naomi MacKay made some new furry friends at West Leith Farm, and discovered that the best therapy comes on four legs. Read on to find out more – and how you could win an alpaca experience.
West Leith Farm is a wonderful place – it’s just a couple of minutes drive from the center of Tring, and yet in the heart of the Chilterns countryside. As I stepped out of the car, I could already feel this was a special place.
My friend and I received a very warm welcome from the team, who introduced us to some of the farm’s residents – most of the animals have been rescued, so they are a motley bunch, but each is a unique character with their own special story.
West Leith is home to Lisa Burchmore, who has been on the farm for 40 years. Lisa’s name will be familiar to anyone in the equestrian world – she’s a show jumper who has represented Great Britain.
But at West Leith, she is Lisa the animal lover, who clearly has a natural affinity with all her animals – and wants to share their therapeutic and healing benefits with others.
After a walk around to meet some of the four-legged residents, Lisa and her team introduced us to our dates for the morning – Alan, Rolo and Lord Nelson. Alpacas are just the prettiest of animals (sorry boys!) with their huge eyes, long lashes and dainty legs. I expected them to be a bit skittish, but they were very calm and obviously content.
After we had had a safety briefing and instructions on how to interact with our chosen alpaca, we set off on a walk around the farm; Lisa leading Lord Nelson (who is the leader of the herd), me with Alan, who is a bit shy but warmed up to me as we walked around – and my friend Jo walked with Rolo (the cheeky one).
The relaxing nature of being with the boys was clear to see – I think I walked around smiling the whole time. Concentrating on your animal, and enjoying the beautiful surroundings allows you to think of nothing else – a real treat in our busy lives where we are slaves to our phones and computers. As we walked, we met some of the other farm residents, including donkeys, and three new alpacas that Lisa has recently rescued.
During our visit, Lisa told us some interesting facts about the alpacas, how much and what they eat, how they live in the wild, and how they protect each other – with one always on watch while the others eat and sleep.
We also got to meet her horses – including her beautiful showjumper, Tooie the cat with one blue and one yellow eye, and the dogs. And finally met a pygmy goat called Bailey, who just loves to be petted.
Our visit was finished off with a lovely relax in the sunshine, watching the boys in their paddock, accompanied by some delicious coffee and cakes.
Lisa believes that interacting with the alpacas can release endorphins that produce a calming effect, and can improve your psychological state.
We certainly left feeling relaxed and refreshed – it was just a shame we had to get back to work and break the spell.
If you’re looking for something a bit different to do, then West Leith Farm is the place to do it. Take a break from your busy life and get back to nature. As they say at West Leith Farm – it’s not vanity, it’s sanity!
Win an alpaca experience!
We have an alpaca experience for up to six people up for grabs. Enter at www.living.info/competitions.