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Team Building Through Equine Therapy | Ballina Wave


Our leading equine facilitator, Maxime talks in-depth about our newest business venture by combining team wellbeing programs with equine assisted learning here at Sugar Beach Ranch.

Situated on 60 acres of unspoilt coastline, just 30 minutes south of Byron Bay, Sugar Beach Ranch, also known as 'nature's playground', is one of the Northern Rivers most hidden gems. The destination boasts deserted white sandy beaches as far as the eye can see, a bounty of wildlife to keep you on your senses and the famous migrating humpback whales breaching on the doorstep.


Once the home of late music maverick Chris 'CM' Murphy, the man responsible for the success of many Australian bands, but most notably INXS: Sugar Beach Ranch is now under the care of his loving daughter Stevey Arena and her husband Nick. Passionate about keeping her father's dream alive, Stevey has transformed the ranch into a haven for all individuals and groups looking for a fresh perspective on what it means to interact with horses as well as wellness experiences.

'Team building activities play a pivotal role in nurturing collaboration and elevating productivity within any organisation,' says Steve. 'While traditional team-building exercises like trust falls and rope courses have their merits, there's a growing trend toward unconventional and innovative approaches to foster team cohesion. One such approach is equine assisted learning, and the tranquil setting of Sugar Beach Ranch provides the perfect backdrop for this transformative experience.

What is Equine Assisted Learning?


Equine Assisted Learning revolves around interactions with horses to address a variety of personal and professional challenges. The medium is gaining momentum in the corporate world for its distinctive capacity to facilitate personal growth, enhance self-awareness. and refine interpersonal skills. Maxime Willems, Sugar Beach Ranch's equine expert, explains, As horses are a social herd animal that live in the here and now. being in close contact with them can support the growth of specific skills such as emotional regulation, rationalising unique personal boundaries, communicating in a meaningful way, and becoming more mindful about our helpful and unhelpful patterns in life:'


Why Equine Assisted Learning?

When used for team wellbeing days, Equine Assisted Learning can provide the opportunity for participants to explore new ways of acting, behaving, thinking or communicating, in a regulated way that feels slightly out of their comfort zone, but still safe and tolerable. According to Maxime, 'This experiential approach has the potential to stimulate motivation and creativity, and to encourage novel perspectives among team members.'


So, how does this happen?

'Other than just talking about certain challenges or necessities, as you would do in a regular meeting at the office, we bring the left and right hemisphere of the brain together, through actually experiencing what is helpful or unhelpful, and in doing so we create awareness around these particular needs and challenges,' explains Maxime. 'Horses are excellent in modelling clear and authentic communication, which can offer a unique platform for team members to practice expressing personal boundaries and more effective communication. 'Trust and leadership are indispensable attributes within any team. Horses, as herd animals are uncompromising judges of authenticity and assertiveness, compelling participants to reflect upon their own leader and follower abilities.

'One of the most commendable aspects of equine assisted learning for team building is its capacity to explore new skills in a meaningful. fun and inclusive way. adds Maxime.

It transcends job position, gender. age. or physical abilities. accommodating evervone within the team. This inclusivitv fosters a sense of unity and equality, further solidifying the team's cohesion.' For bookings and more information visit:

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