The horses of Sumba take center stage in this 5 day programme where the graceful synergy between humans and horses becomes a transformative journey of healing and self-discovery. Our herd of gentle and intuitive horses becomes your co-partners in this therapeutic process. Purpose crafted activities allow participants to gain profound insights into their emotions, communication styles, and behavioural patterns.

As you interact with the horses, you learn to build trust, assert boundaries, and embrace vulnerability, through a unique language of feedback from your equine companions.



Retreat & Conquer

23rd - 27th November 2024

For over 20 years, ground-breaking equine work has helped thousands of people to overcome their challenges and lead more fulfilling lives. Now in one of the world's most awe-inspiring places, NIHI Sumba’s very own wild horses will be led by Professor Andreas Liefooghe, (founder of Operation Centaur, the UK’s leading horse therapy centre) to do what comes so naturally to them - they take us where we want to go, faster.

Spanning five days and four nights, specialist therapists will lead a unique and proven programme of change, in the powerful presence of our wild horses.

NIHI Spa Safari presents Retreat and Conquer:
Our Sumba sea-horses take center stage in the most profound and purpose-led NIHI Spa Safari event yet.

Come and join our next retreat, and prepare to conquer.
Day 1 - A Beginning

Our first task is to create the solid ground upon which our exploration can begin. It is the start of our journey, a moment for you to establish your own ways to keep yourself safe and productive, as well as open and accountable.

Day 2 - Understanding Connections

Today your relationship with your horse begins. As you wordlessly choose each other and bond, your horse will see you, they will feel your energy. They will respond to your signals without opinion and without judgement. In turn, you will feel their strength, their security, and their power to move you.

Day 3 - Reconnecting with Each Other and with Yourself

Your relationship to your horse, and to the group, will now be deepening. Each interaction brings familiarity and understanding, but also new challenges. These challenges may create petty conflicts, or deep tensions, with the steady gaze of your horse compelling you to examine your responses.

Day 4 - Creating Movement

Today you will move from feeling stuck, to a sense of flow. As a herd, you will move past the conflicts towards collaboration, letting go of control and accepting unpredictability. As you let go of past anxieties, losses, and preoccupations, you discover new pathways and new motivations.

Day 5 - Setting Direction

We are now resolved to find a purposeful path that will bring fulfilment, as well as resilience and joy. With this comes a sense of freedom in the choices before you. You are no longer burdened by the restraints of the past..


"Connecting with horses uncovers something deep inside ourselves - something that might take many years of talking therapy to unlock. They hold a mirror up and show us what is really going on."

Professor Andreas Liefooghe


Ride & Recharge

This new program seamlessly combines the joy of horse riding with a transformation wellness experience. Designed to cater to guests of all ages and skill levels, this  experience spans five days and promises and unforgettable adventure for familiesand friend alike.

Participants will be immersed in the awe-inspiring beauty of picturesque local villages, undulating hills, and majestic mountains as they embark on the retreat's versatile trekking program. They will traverse lush green paddy fields and be captivated by the azure coastline, basking in the stunning vistas that unfold before them.

The experience of cantering through tranquil waves is unparalleled, and riders seeking more saddle time can opt for longer rides to neighbouring Rice Island and Coconut Cove. As the journey draws to a close, guests will indulge in a unique equine spa day featuring unhaltered liberty work, a sunrise ride, and a cliff-top breakfast at the renowned Nihi Spa Safari. Tailor-made massages will also be offered, providing the ultimate opportunity to soothe the senses and achieve mental clarity.   

Day 1

Participants will connect with their horses during an early hilltop hike, where they will find the horse that they bond with most within the free-roaming herd. Having led their horses back to the Sandalwood Stables, this is then followed by unhaltered liberty work in the specially designed round pen. Inclusive discussions about abilities and concerns will be encouraged during the day, with further lessons availablefor those seeking additional support in order to make the hole program inclusive of all.

Day 2

A scenic bush-to-beach ride awaits, lasting 1.5 to two hours, immersing participants in the captivating natural surroundings.

Day 3

The day begins with invigorating yoga on horseback and meditation on the beach, either on horseback or walking alongside the horse, in the afternoon, guests are invited to swim with their horses in the crystal-clear waters, followed by a magical sunset beach ride.

Day 4

Experience riders can embark on a thrilling two-and-a-half-hour rideto Rice Island, culminating in a delightful picnic brunch. Those wishing not to ride can be transported by jeep to allow them to take part in the picnic still.

Day 5

Guests will rise at dawn to join the Spa Safari Ride, arriving at NIHI's award-winning spa, where a fire-cooked breakfast awaits. A day of personalized spa treatments will follow, offering relief for tired muscles and rejuvenation for the spirit.

The renowned NIHI herd has been meticulously selected for its temperament and versatility, ensuring that riders of all ages, including children, can feel comfortable. For those who prefer not to ride, transportation to destinations is available by vehicle.

"Horse medicine feels like a simple reminder of how to balance ourselves, with the help of the noblest of creatures, and I leave maybe a bit more tolerant of others."

Alice Temperley, The Times



Equine Activities Package

Exploring Sumba's Equine Heritage

Horses are integral to the soul of Sumba and NIHI®’s exceptional equestrian facility, Sandalwood Stables, offers a range of exceptional equine experiences for horse lovers, beginner through to advanced riders. Our team has handpicked our beautiful herd of local horses, ready to carry you off into the sunset and beyond.

The original breed of the local Sumba pony comes from Mongolian and Arab bloodlines, brought to Sumba for trading in exchange for sandalwood and spices. Though a small breed, their genetic makeup makes for an extremely agile and highly spirited horse.

Package Options

Learn more about
Equine Therapy at NIHI

Finantial Times

How equine-assisted therapy guided me through grief

Mourning the death of her father, one writer turns to the animals she so loved as a child for help.

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Financial Review

Can paradise heal a broken heart? How to overcome grief on a retreat

Horses have long been used in therapy for people with disabilities and injuries. Now it appears they can also help us recover from loss.

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The Times

How wild horse therapy in Indonesia healed me

The fashion designer Alice Temperley was burnt out and stressed. Could a visit to remote Sumba island, and its native horses, help to restore her?

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