A woman has admitted she lived as a horse every day until the age of 13 – galloping around on all fours, wearing a bridle and even eating grass.
Equestrian escapades were all part of the daily routine for art therapist Kate Havord between the ages of six and 13.
The 47-year-old said a ‘horse spirit’ first entered her when she won an all fours running race at school and eventually had 32 distinct horse personalities she could call upon at any given moment.
And Kate, who lives in Chippenham, Wilts, but grew up “roaming free” on a farm in Scotland, would even try to eat her meals a horse when her parents weren’t looking.
Kate said: “During the school race when I started to gallop I remember thinking to myself ‘this is fantastic!’.
“It was like the spirit of the horse entered me – I felt so free and powerful and this euphoria was intensified by the fact that I won the race by a long shot.
“From that moment on there was always more of a pull to get down on all fours and gallop that to walk along on two legs – I would pretend to be a horse at every opportunity.
“I remember going to my mum and dad’s vegetable patch and nibbling on broccoli flowers, a fennel bush or even a bit of grass – although that was a bit of a struggle to eat.
“Sometimes I would even try to eat my dinner as a horse when my parents weren’t looking, although I did get caught a few times!
“I created horse shoes out of old cork tiles and stuck them on to create horse shoe patterns, and I used to use my mum’s empty face cream pots as hooves.
“I’d put them on my hands and walk around on all-fours with them because they’d make that clip-clop noise.
“I also had two old Horlicks cups which made a great sound on gravel, and I made tails out of wool, whips and tack.
“I never fully believed I was a horse, it was more like an extension of my personality which allowed me to explore different things and aspects of my life.
“It was a world I could control and in which I had ultimate freedom and creative expression.”
Single Kate, who has no children, said as younger sister Sarah, 44, joined in with her creative fantasy the pair eventually cultivated the personalities of 32 different horses.
But her days as a horse were eventually brought to a halt by her father, the late renowned television actor Conrad Phillips, when she was 13.
Kate’s strong connection to horses did not waver though and she struck up a close bond with pet horse Orinoco, who died last year.
The spiritual priestess-in-training believes the spirits of Orinoco and her father appeared to her in clouds when each passed away.
And art therapist Kate, who works with children, believes her childhood behaviour perfectly demonstrates how children use escapism to deal with difficulties in life.
Kate said: “The horse personality all had names – Shazzy was the first, and there was Peanuts, Diamond and Balthazar.
“The list went on and whenever we would come across a word or name that we thought was interesting another horse or pony would be born!
“When we’d go on holiday my sister used to have to choose which horses would come along, and then I would have to oblige acting as those horses.
“We would make little show jumping courses in the garden and I would stretch my skills on all fours by creating higher and larger jumps. I became very skilled at show jumping!
“Eventually as a 13-year-old I was out trotting on my neighbour’s drive when my dad came out and said to me in his Shakespearean actor’s voice ‘there comes a time, my darling, when every young lady has to put away her hooves.
“It was then I remember that I suddenly felt a switch go off. That was a really strange moment. That day my childhood was over – I stopped doing it after that.
“Looking back at it now and I think it was a lot to do with coping with childhood stress I think my father struggled to combine farming with being an actor.
“The work was really in London so he used to have to go away for periods of time which I think was stressful.
“He also became ill with a suspected brain tumour, which resulted with him being bedridden for almost a year.
“It was a form of escapism and dealing with difficult things in my life over which I had no control.
“In my work I quite often find that children like pretending to be animals, like injured dogs that need rescuing for example or wild creatures.
“I now see that it is Shamanic to take on the spirit of an animal to give you the strength you need to overcome adversity.
“I can look back and see that maybe that’s what happened for me as a child. It has definitely informed my work.”