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Dovecot Farm: 'The most powerful form of mindfulness is found in nature'

Updated: Mar 17, 2022

Photo by Dovecot Farm

As the chief compassion officer and co-founder of the Dovecot Farms equestrian wellness center in Loxahatchee Groves, Sarah Palmer invites people to find peace during challenging times.

Palmer is a Mindfulness Meditation Teacher, Resilience Mentor and Coach. She learned equine facilitated learning and coaching at the Kathy Pike Academy for Coaching with Horses. She has a career in marketing that spans the globe but has lived in South Florida since January 2016.

Dovecot Farms is a coaching and day retreat facility offering “compassionate equestrianism” experiences with horses that do not involve riding. To Sarah, mindfulness is the key to wellbeing.

Dovecot Farms welcomes individuals and organizations that want to create a more meaningful life and begin their journey toward inner peace.

Individuals interested in participating in an equine therapy experience at Dovecot Farms in Loxahatchee Groves will participate in journaling, heart-centered breathing techniques, silent meditation and sound healing.

Located near Wellington’s equestrian center, Dovecot Farms is a serene setting with 11 beautiful acres designed to promote healing through a connection with horses alongside mindfulness exercises.

“The most powerful form of mindfulness is found in nature,” Palmer said, “through the teaching of these practices I can give people within the community the tools they need to release stress and tension from their bodies,”

The word “dovecot” reflects the Old English meaning that evokes images of shelter, like nest holes for doves. The dovecot, or today’s birdcage, is a safe haven, yet the doves are free to come and go.

Palmer offers unique equestrian experiences to individuals and people in the community through retreats at Dovecot Farms.

More recently the focus has been on healthcare workers seeking a retreat from the difficulties of their day-to-day duties during the pandemic.

The Barn to Bedside Retreat, a recurring program at Dovecot Farms, is tailored specifically for nurses. The program is supported by the Palm Health Foundation.

It helps nurses cope with the stress they experience in dealing with the continuing pandemic. “Frequently, caregivers can forget about themselves,” Palmer said. Her goal for our local healthcare heroes is to have them leave the farm feeling rejuvenated, relaxed and ready to take on their responsibilities in their continuing compassionate care for our community.

Sound healing with the horses of Dovecot Farm.

Photo by Dovecot Farm

Palmer recalls one group that took part in a wellness retreat at Dovecot farms, a group of leadership nurses from St. Mary’s Medical Center. St. Mary’s Medical Center leads in critical care medicine, treating more than 70,000 emergency and trauma patients each year.

“I wasn’t sure how sound healing would be received from the medical world, but the St. Mary’s group left the farm looking like completely different people,” Palmer continues, “They took a picture as a group, signed it, and gifted it to their chief nursing officer as a thank you for planning the retreat.”

Equine therapy, commonly called equestrian therapy, harnesses the healing power of horses as they interact with people. Sarah also taps into equestrian therapy to help those interested in health and wellness achieve inner peace, more harmonious relationships and improved life-work integration.

They often begin their experience with a cup of tea in the Dovecot farmhouse and then walk five minutes to the Royal Palms Beach Pines Natural Area, a beautiful 773-acre natural preserve. There they will spend some time being in the moment, taking in the sights and sounds while they photograph indigenous flowers, trees and birds that live in our local area.

They complete the session at Dovecot Farms equestrian center, where they spend time with horses that are attuned to people’s moods through their breathing and the tension in their bodies. The goal is to help people lower their heart rate and become calmer.

This experiential mental health treatment is designed for people of all ages and a wide range of mental health and physical issues. People with needs ranging from anxiety and depression to those on the autistic spectrum have been alleviated by being around horses.

“Horses have a great sense of frequency. They can understand your intentions,” Palmer said.

Palmer finds inspiration from the mindfulness programs of Jon Zinn of UMass, and she uses mindfulness techniques to help visitors to Dovecot Farms find focus and calm in their daily lives. She also believes that the horses at Dovecot Farms help people embrace authenticity and compassion. Team-building programs start by encouraging people to learn how to collaborate with horses.

Palmer sees a link between mindfulness, self-awareness and emotional intelligence, empowering people to respond to others effectively. More and more, business leaders are focusing on advocating mindfulness to help employees develop the resilience that is so important for personal and communal success. Do learn more about Dovecot Farms click here.


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