Dr Margaretha Montagu and her Friesian Horses’ Mindfulness and Meditation with Horses Retreats

an Esprit Meraki Retreat


Dates:23-30 July 2023 : Only 2 places left8 days
Various other dates please enquire about availability8 days
To inquire about/book a retreat, please send an email to Welcome2Gascony(at)gmail.com.


The Mindfulness and Meditation with Horses retreats will enable you to connect with Esprit Meraki’s magnificent Friesian 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. 

Mindfulness in Motion: Exploring Meditation with Horses as Guides

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 Meditation with Horses retreats UNIQUE. Friesians are a generous, patient, warmhearted and affectionate breed, par excellance. Especially the mares, who are often powerful, intuitive healers. All activities happen with everyone’s feet firmly on the ground – there is no horse riding during these retreats.” Dr Margaretha Montagu

If this resonates, then either Dr Margaretha Montagu’s 8-day Mindfulness and Meditation with Horses retreat here in the sun-blessed southwest of France 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 these magnificent animals could change your life forever.

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 8-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 8 days (or longer!) will be an authentic, much-loved French farmhouse, surrounded by sunflower fields, ancient woods, lush meadows and fertile orchards.

The Mindfulness and Meditation with Horses retreat is 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 gorgeous 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.

Let the Camino de Santiago de Compostela Inspire You


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 the Mindfulness and Meditation with Horses Retreats are exactly what you have been looking for.

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 mindfulness and meditation 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


Thank you so much for allowing me into your home for the last few days. Your kindness, patience and generosity have touched me deeply. The time that Belle, Aurore and Tess let me spend with them and the lessons they taught me have been truly healing and extremely cathartic. You have created something really unique and magic here and I am in awe of the power of it. May it always bring you as much peace and fulfillment as it did me. With deep gratitude, A Campbell

“A powerful and wonderful life experience, with caring guidance by Margaretha. One can truly experience a mindful meditation with the horses who are definitely spiritual. Also, your senses become reinvigorated with the beautiful food and wine, whilst sitting and listening to the unique sound of nature’s calmness.” S. Murphy

Thank you so much for the beautiful day on Saturday. It was a truly special and treasurable experience that I feel very lucky to have had. Your horses are such lovely characters and it was fun getting to know them a little. They have stayed in my mind. I would love to come back again…B. Gracias

I feel so incredibly lucky to have had this chance that worked out so amazingly in divine timing. I know that you are, yourself, going through a stressful time and so that is why I am even more grateful that despite that, you were there to help me through this transition. I am also inspired by you and how you have faced your challenges, and I appreciate so much that you are also so human, with vulnerabilities just like we all have. Thanks also for sharing these moments with me.  A Alyahya

I will be eternally grateful for these memorable deep relaxing sincere moments of introspection with you & the horses. A real eye-opener! Thank you for everything. S Janssen

 I really needed the time to find myself again. After a few days there I started sleeping better, I feel more relaxed and I am dealing with my pain in a better way. Margarita was the best, she’s extremely accurate in what she does, great instincts. Definitely an experience that we should all have. Now I want to take my friend as well. I cannot express in here how much I learned about me and how to handle situations in my job. L Ramirez

Thank you so much Margaretha for a very special 14 days. It was a joy to meet you, other guests, your friends, the horses and not forgetting the cats! I also had the opportunity to walk two stretches of the Camino de Santiago which was an experience not to be missed. Margaretha, your kind words of guidance helped it to be a very rewarding experience and I can’t thank you enough. Marilyn E. (review posted on Bookeretreats.com)

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 horses, while attending this retreat. Contact me at welcome2gascony@gmail.com asap to enquire about availability.

What is included in this retreat:

  • Transfers from Bordeaux airport to Esprit Meraki
  • 7 nights’ accommodation in a cool, light, airy single 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)
  • 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
  • Transport to field trips: fresh food market, spa, lake etc, as well as pick-up and drop-off at the start and end of Camino walks
  • Free pre-retreat online course, e-book and worksheets and free post-retreat group coaching consultation

What is NOT included:

  • Transport from your home to Bordeaux airport 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 89 euros per room per night, but only to our retreat guests,

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:
-a short but intense and insight-giving online retreat to prepare you for your retreat
-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 ended
-a pop-up WhatsApp group to stay in contact with the other amazing women you will meet on this retreat, and to facilitate interaction, during and after the retreat, you can join
-an online group coaching session, to help you integrate what you have learned during the retreat into everyday life, after your retreat

Only a limited number of participants will be able to attend a Mindfulness and Meditation 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 2999 euros for a single bedroom and 2499 euros pp for 2 people in a double bedroom. Please enquire about longer retreats. Maximum of 4 participants per retreat. Our retreats start at 18h00 on the day of arrival to 11h00 on the day of departure.

So seize this exceptional opportunity to attend a retreat here at Esprit Meraki now…to secure your booking, make a reservation and pay your deposit. 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)gmail.com.

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

Privacy notice

We take your privacy seriously. Your email address is not passed on or sold to any third parties whatsoever, you are not subscribing to any mailing lists and we promise to only use your details to contact you directly ourselves.