Horses and the Art of Mindful Living: Finding Peace in the Present Moment – a Retreat

Embark on a Journey to Greater Confidence, Communication, Calm and Connection, with a small herd of Friesian and Falabella Horses

The 4 C’s Equine-guided Experiential Learning Retreats: Confidence, Calmness, Communication and Connection

at Esprit Meraki

These comprehensive 5-day retreats will enable you to connect with Esprit Meraki’s magnificent Friesian and Falabella horses in an enriching, compelling and transformational way and help you discover effective strategies to dramatically reduce your stress levels and create the long, happy and healthy life you are meant to live. 

Have you always been fascinated by horses, and longed to connect with them on a deeper level but have always been intimidated by their size?

This exceptional escape to the south of France offers you the opportunity to make that connection and benefit abundantly from the horses’ intuitive and authentic wisdom. You will spend the whole retreat in the presence of these patient, caring, and generous animals. You will be able to breathe with them, touch them, talk with them, walk with them and share your most secret thoughts with them.

 “I created these retreats with my horses to help you internalise how exceptional, powerful, gifted, beautiful, strong, generous, appreciated, valuable, talented, brilliant, admired, respected, courageous, special, caring and lovable you are.

My purebred Friesian horses make these retreats UNIQUE. Friesians and Falabellas are generous, patient, warmhearted and affectionate breeds, par excellence. Especially the mares, who are often powerful, intuitive healers.” Dr Margaretha Montagu

All activities happen with everyone’s feet firmly on the ground – there is no horse riding during these retreats.

If this resonates, then these 5-day retreats, that foster self-awareness, self-discovery and self-compassion, facilitated by Dr Montagu’s Friesian and Falabella horses, might well be the perfect retreat for you.

Embark on a Journey of Self-discovery…

Do you feel uber-stressed, overwhelmed and exhausted? Do you feel mentally and physically drained and unable to cope with the never-ending and ever-increasing demands made of you? If you are in desperate need of a break, then escaping to this 200-year-old French farmhouse, surrounded by horse paddocks on the edge of an ancient forest where you can rest, relax and recharge your batteries in the presence of these magnificent animals could change your life forever.

Mastering Mindfulness – a practice of being present and fully engaged in the present moment, without judgment – with the guidance of Esprit Meraki’s Horses can empower you to

  • increase emotional and social resilience by developing a variety of problem-solving skills as well as crisis-coping skills
  • dramatically enhance your ability to focus and concentrate by training the mind to stay present and resist distractions, thus improving performance and increasing productivity
  • increase self-awareness and find a simpler and more direct path to inner strength and serenity
  • compassionately accept yourself and appreciate your unique talents and abilities
  • free yourself from immobilizing fear by mastering simple techniques to easily and effectively deal with stressful situations with the help of the horses
  • believe in yourself so that you can make the changes you want to make in your life
  • build strong, supportive and long-lasting relationships

This is your opportunity to thoroughly detox your body and your mind, not only by connecting with the horses, but also by walking short sections of the Camino de Santiago de Compostela. During this 5-day retreat, hosted in the foothills of the mighty Pyrenées mountains in the unspoiled and largely undiscovered sun-blessed southwest of France, you can get answers to your questions and find solutions to your problems.

Your home-from-home, for 5 days will be an authentic, much-loved French farmhouse, surrounded by sunflower fields, ancient woods, lush meadows and fertile orchards.

These Medidation with Horses retreats are the perfect way to get back in control, secure in the knowledge that you can handle any stressful situation, so that you can become the very best version of yourself, live your best life, and do whatever it is that you were put on the planet to do!

…to a happy, healthy and serene New You

Imagine sitting under 200-year-old lime trees, comfortably ensconced in a sun-lounger, listening to the birds chatting away happily in the trees, sipping a scrumptious, ice-cold glass of fresh-pressed juice with the perfume of wildflowers and herbs scenting the air while a gorgeous Friesian mare is contentedly munching on her hay within touching distance.

Fast forward.

You are back home. The alarm goes off, it’s time to get up and go to work. You jump out of bed, excited about what the new day may bring. You slept well, deeply and without interruptions, and you wake up feeling fully rested and refreshed. Bursting with energy, you sing on your way to the shower and smile at your reflection in the mirror…

Are you ready for an unforgettable retreat that will leave you feeling vibrantly alive, full of joie de vivre, deliciously indulged and profoundly relaxed from the top of your head to the tips of your toes?

This retreat is for you, if you
1. are a busy professional who feels overworked, overwhelmed and exhausted, and close to burnout, and you want to avoid permanent damage to your physical and psychological health,
2. want to develop effective coping strategies that can be incorporated seamlessly into your personal and professional life and empower you to make a difference in other people’s lives,
3. aim to live a long, happy, healthy and fulfilling life, full of purpose and meaning – in alignment with your unique talents, values and ideals.

Find out what others have to say about these retreats:


Meet Your Retreat Leader: Dr Margaretha Montagu

I have two passions in my life: horses and stress management. After working for 20 years as a medical doctor in a variety of specialities including psychiatry and general practice, I came to the conclusion that many diseases have their roots in the stress my patients have to endure. I decided that prevention is better than cure, and studied a number of alternative therapies including Mindfulness Stress Management, Hypnotherapy, Life Transition Coaching and NLP, and eventually combined my education and experience to create the master mindfulness with horses retreats that I now lead at my house in the southwest of France.

After having successfully navigated several major life transitions myself, I now specialise in helping other people get through challenging life changes like divorce, retirement, redundancy, starting a business, changing careers, moving to another country etc.

Dr M Montagu MBChB MRCGP MedHypDip NLP Master Pract Cert Prof Life Coach Cert Counseling Cert EAGALA Cert

If you are ready, with the guidance of my horses, to discover effective stress management strategies that you can easily incorporate into your daily life, that will allow you to deal with whatever challenges come your way, then these Meditation with Horses Retreats are exactly what you have been looking for.

Imagine how different your life will be in a year’s time if you decide to create a more meaningful, rewarding, impactful and fulfilling life for yourself, by connecting with my awesome Friesian and Falabella horses, while attending this retreat. Contact me at asap to enquire about availability.

What is included in this retreat:

  • 4 nights’ accommodation in a cool, light, airy room in an authentic half-timbered French farmhouse in the heart of the Cotes de Gascogne wine region in the south-west of France
  • Lush towels, homemade soaps, salts and candles, make every bath/shower a sensual experience
  • Discussion about the best books to read about equine-guided learning
  • Stargazing and communing-with-the-universe Yoga Nidra practice (there is barely any light pollution here)
  • Equine-facilitated Mindfulness and Equine-guided Meditation sessions (including Equine-assisted Experiential Learning)
  • Potentially life-changing Camino de Santiago de Compostela walks with an introduction to walking meditation
  • Scrumptious fresh food locally sourced with access to a selection of herbal teas and coffee 24/7
  • Wild swimming in a crystal clear lake in the middle of an ancient oak forest
  • Forest bathing (also called shinrin-yoku or “taking in the forest atmosphere”) – an opportunity to immerse yourself and reconnect with nature

What is NOT included:

  • Transport from your home to Esprit Meraki and back
  • Personal Health Insurance and/or Travel Insurance (we highly recommend insurance cover in case you need to cancel)
  • Classic Massages: for additional pampering, you can book a massage bien-être, out on the lawn, or on your own terrace, and give yourself over to Sarah’s magical hands, while the lavender bushes dispense 100% natural aromatherapy.
  • Alcoholic drinks
  • One dinner in a local restaurant – to boost the local economy post-COVID (cost 15-30 euros, depending on your choices) but also to test-drive intermittent fasting in a social situation
  • To facilitate transport arrangements, or to explore the region, you are welcome to arrive a day or two early or leave a day or two after the retreat – we offer bed-and-breakfast accommodation on a day-to-day basis, starting at 119 euros per room per night, but only to our retreat guests. Non-participating partners are very welcome, there is a lot for them to discover and do in the immediate vicinity.

Enough free time is available for relaxing and recharging your batteries. None of the activities is mandatory. If you prefer to skip an activity and just relax and commune quietly with the horses in the garden, you are more than welcome. The program is not set in stone and might be adjusted according to outside temperatures.


La Maison Meraki sits in a sunny clearing next to a great and ancient forest, like a little old lady gathering her shawl around her bony shoulders. She has been here for at least 200 years, from her elevated position she looks out over the treetops to the mighty Pyrenées mountains. Who knows who has ventured over her threshold, maybe D’Artagnan himself, the chateau where he was born is only a few kilometres away. Yes, this is indeed Gascony, land not only of milk and honey but also of divine wines, persillade, garbure, foie gras, cèpes, duck confit…all less than two hour’s drive southeast of Bordeaux.

Maison Meraki is a half-timbered house that faces southeast, towards the sunrise, typical of all Landaise fermettes. She has her back to the sunset, where the cold winds and weather come from in the winter. The house is U-shaped, with a central, secluded courtyard, where lavender perfumes the air in the summer. There are two guest bedrooms downstairs, each opening onto its own patio where guests can sit and soak up the sun with a cool drink and a good book. There is a third bedroom upstairs, with glorious views of the surrounding woods, meadows, vineyards and sunflower fields.

The heart of the house is the kitchen-sitting room, delightfully cool in the summer, and extended by a shaded patio into the courtyard and snug and warm in the winter, heated by a Godin wood burner. Three centuries-old Line trees guard the eastern flank, and even older, majestic oak trees hold court in the paddocks surrounding the house.

I renovated Maison Meraki slowly and carefully. I have respected its humble origins and kept it dans son jus, comfortable but unpretentious, so if you want to experience unadulterated French farm life, this is the retreat for you. If you are looking for 8 days in a luxurious chateau, it is not.

En plus, this is a French farmhouse, unlike any you have visited before. Even though I am a Frenchwoman through and through, I was born in Africa, so the interior is decorated, the meals flavoured, and the garden is scented by the warm spices and fragment herbs of the country of my birth.

Cuisine de Gascogne

Nowhere in France is the French Paradox more prevalent than in Gascony. A paradox, because despite frying just about everything in duck fat, and washing undeniably rich dishes down with copious amounts of Cotes de Gascogne and Saint Mont wines, the people from this region live long, some of the longest in Europe, and healthy lives.

Not to be outdone, at Maison Meraki you will be able to investigate this paradox first-hand. The food is simple but delicious and my aim is to feed your body as well and as generously as your mind. Meals are a celebration of the wonderful variety of fresh local produce available from my garden as well as from the local weekly fresh food markets. Both brunch and dinner are served al fresco, weather permitting.

Vivre Vert – Slow and Sustainable Tourism in the Southwest of France

It is important to me that the retreats I offer, do as little damage to the environment as possible, while at the same time contributing to the local community’s economy. I feel more like the custodian than the owner of this property – I feel extremely privileged to live here. As its custodian, my intention is to look after Maison Meraki to the very best of my ability and to preserve it for generations to come. In the meantime, I share the exceptional natural beauty, the rich cultural heritage and the nurturing tranquillity of this open- and warmhearted house with my guests without harming the natural environment and helping environmentally aware local producers at the same time.

***BONUSES*** You will have access to:
-the 30-page e-book “Make Your Next Retreat Your Best Retreat Ever” that you can use to enrich your retreat experience
-detailed instructions on how to keep a travel diary, so that you can benefit from what you learned for years after your retreat
-an online course that will help you put into practice what you have learned from the horses by journalling

Only a limited number of participants will be able to attend a Master Mindfulness with Horses Retreat every year.

To ensure everyone gets individual, quality attention and the time to ask questions, I limit my groups to a maximum of 4 guests and I host a limited amount of these retreats per year – which means you will need to reserve early to be one of the few fortunate guests who come here this year.

Your Investment

Does this sound like the retreat of a lifetime? If it does, spoil yourself by investing in yourself and your future by attending this unique retreat for 1499 euros for a single bedroom and 2999 euros pp for 2 people in a double bedroom. Please note that these retreats include equine-assisted experiential learning and are therefore more expensive. Maximum of 4 participants per retreat. Our retreats start at 16h00 on the day of arrival to 12h00 on the day of departure.

So seize this exceptional opportunity to attend a retreat here at Esprit Meraki now…a warm welcome awaits you amidst the Armagnac, Saint Mont and Cotes de Gascogne vineyards in the sun-blessed southwest of France.

Ready to make a reservation? To pay your deposit and secure your booking, please contact us with the dates of the week that suits you at welcome2gascony(at) Subscribe to my Retreat Mailing List to be the first to know about any last-minute or early-bird special offers on my retreats.

Cancellation Policy


To secure your booking, a non-refundable 25% deposit is required. As the group is very small, only a paid deposit will guarantee your attendance. If your retreat is fully booked, you will be offered a place on the waiting list. Your deposit is transferable to another person for the retreat you booked, subject to approval.

Final Payment

The balance of payment is due 30 days prior to the start of your retreat. Reservations made less than 30 days before the retreat starts, must be paid in full. Please note: Due to the extensive and expensive preparation that goes into each of these retreats, I cannot offer refunds, so I highly recommend that you purchase adequate travel insurance to cover any unanticipated changes in your travel plans. Any cancellation made in writing less than 30 days before the retreat starts, or once the retreat has started, will result in a total loss of funds. Depending on availability, you can choose to transfer your booking to another date without incurring any additional fees, within the same calendar year.

I reserve the right to cancel the retreat if it is not meeting the retreat minimum (if I do so your deposit is refunded in full). I reserve the right to determine if you are a good fit for this retreat (if not, your deposit will be refunded in full).  I reserve the right to cancel the retreat for personal reasons (if I do so your deposit/full payment will be refunded in full).

This cancellation policy is firm therefore please do not make any travel arrangements until you receive your registration confirmation.

Please read our terms and conditions

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