My horse saved my life

Bournemouth Echo: My horse saved my life My horse saved my life

As troubled Paul Gascoigne returns from taking equine therapy in a US clinic, a recovered drug addict from Bournemouth tells Juliette Astrup about the horse that saved her life

Chatting to Stephanie Weyell as she sips orange barley water in the comfortable surroundings of her Queens Park family home it is hard to imagine she has been though the nightmare of drug addiction.

Yet, in a soft voice, she recounts a time in her life when she went to hell and back in the grip of an addiction which threatened to destroy her.

The pretty 34-year-old smoked pot for the first time at the tender age of 11 – and by the age of 16 she had tried everything, from amphetamines to cocaine and even heroin.

She warns: “It can happen to anyone. I just never thought that I would get addicted. It started off by going clubbing every week and it just went on from there. Once you smoke pot you think well, that’s ok – then you go on to the next stage, then the next stage, and then the next one. And the people around you make it all seem acceptable. It was so normal – I just got swept along in the current of this drugs sub-culture.”

Stephanie went through two stints in rehab – including alongside singer Robbie Williams when she was 18 – but returned to drugs both times. Remarkably, despite the intensity of her addiction, she managed to pass nine GCSEs and gain a BTEC qualification at college. Following that she was even holding down a smart office job, going to score drugs in her lunch hour dressed in a suit.

But finally, aged 21, she hit rock bottom and she realised that she had come to a crossroads from which there was no turning back. “It had got to the stage where, to continue taking drugs, I was going to have to say goodbye to my family and go into this life of destruction and do some really dark stuff,” she said. “The only other way was to come off drugs and put it behind me once and for all.”

Finally she had the strength to do it – using two weeks away in Australia for a family wedding to cut herself off from drugs and go through detox alone in a hotel room. Physically she was clean – but she was by no means cured. It wasn’t until a move to Marbella in Spain with her then boyfriend shortly afterwards that the healing process truly began.

Working as a groom she came across Campero – a famous ‘dancing horse’ from one of the most prestigious bloodlines in Spain – who had been left lame and neglected in a stable for years, scarcely seeing daylight. The moment she saw his “sad eyes” she said she fell in love straight away, finding she could “relate to something” in them.

“I was drug-free – but emotionally I was lost,” she said. “Here was this horse who needed me – I just couldn’t let him down. He brought me back to myself.”

Gradually over months and years she tended to him, every day doing a bit more – leading him to the shower to cool off, taking him to graze, bringing him bags of carrots.

“Eventually he got so much better that he looked, and acted, like the stallion he used to be,” she added. “He was a magnificent creature and what we had both come through together made me proud of both of us. I remembering whispering in his ear, “one day, we will go from this stable and I will put you into a big field in England, I promise you that.”

Eight years later Stephanie did just that bringing Campero, and his son Cirius Nevado, back to the UK. Tragically a riding accident involving barbed wire on New Year’s Day two years ago left Campero so badly injured he had to be put down.

But, as Stephanie says, his legacy lives on, in his son Cirius Nevado. Already having experienced the healing power of animals herself, and helped other addicts during her years in Spain through contact with her horses, Stephanie is keen for that process to continue.

She is about to start volunteering with charity Caring Canines, taking dogs into rehab centres to help recovering addicts, and she hopes to use Cirius in the same way in the future.

It is something about which she is truly passionate.

“My approach to addiction is to try and take people out of past or future, and into the moment. The only thing we have control over is now. The horses definitely help with that,” she added.

“When you are grooming a horse’s mane and get wrapped up in that moment, it can be magical. You do not need to think about anything else. To a horsey person who is used to moving half a ton of horse over to the left or the right, it is no big deal.

"But take a child or adult who has been bullied or abused and has had all control taken from their life, to actually work together with a horse is a powerful moment and something that can make an immediate change to a person’s confidence and whole future. I know that for a fact because I have seen the transformation in others.

She added with a smile: “I can honestly say that Campero saved my life, and Cirius Nevado continues to keep my feet firmly on the ground.”

Comments (11)

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11:58am Sat 23 Mar 13

mmmmmmm says...

You can guarantee the first gateway recreational drug she took was sugar.
You can guarantee the first gateway recreational drug she took was sugar. mmmmmmm
  • Score: 0

12:27pm Sat 23 Mar 13

tristan1 says...

i went to school with steph,she was a very lovely girl,very beautifull too,with a good personality from a good family,just shows anyone can get caught up in it ....myself included an it happened exatly the same way as she describes,start young and progresses .....well done stephanie im happy for you xx
i went to school with steph,she was a very lovely girl,very beautifull too,with a good personality from a good family,just shows anyone can get caught up in it ....myself included an it happened exatly the same way as she describes,start young and progresses .....well done stephanie im happy for you xx tristan1
  • Score: 0

1:40pm Sat 23 Mar 13

stevobath says...

Well done.

Unfortunately not everyone with addiction has money to go to Australia for weddings& sit in hotel rooms etc.

Most addicts don't have access to posh rehabs either.Even cheap & successful ones are not available to many.

Wasting money on 'Scratch & Sniff' cannabis leaflets shows just what's wrong with drug policy in the UK.

Only thing this article shows is that drugs affect all sorts of people.
People can work & function while taking drugs as this lady proved.
Well done. Unfortunately not everyone with addiction has money to go to Australia for weddings& sit in hotel rooms etc. Most addicts don't have access to posh rehabs either.Even cheap & successful ones are not available to many. Wasting money on 'Scratch & Sniff' cannabis leaflets shows just what's wrong with drug policy in the UK. Only thing this article shows is that drugs affect all sorts of people. People can work & function while taking drugs as this lady proved. stevobath
  • Score: 0

5:15pm Sat 23 Mar 13

stevobath says...

mantle wrote:
Tragically a riding accident involving barbed wire on New Year’s Day two years ago left Campero so badly injured he had to be put down.


Its Campero I feel sorry for
I wouldn't let a junkie near my live stock
let alone take them away.
Something stinks here.
What stinks then?

What are you implying?

Another member of public who thinks 'Junkies' mean people lying in their own vomit,scabs on face,runny nose saying, 'Im alright,its only a cold'

You're a misinformed idiot I would guess
who assumes if you take drugs you can't stand up & are incapable of any normal activity.

Yes.Hit the bottom,having no where to live with a raging habit etc, maybe you'd be incapable.

I suggest rather than make crass statements,do a bit of research.

Pathetic.
[quote][p][bold]mantle[/bold] wrote: Tragically a riding accident involving barbed wire on New Year’s Day two years ago left Campero so badly injured he had to be put down. Its Campero I feel sorry for I wouldn't let a junkie near my live stock let alone take them away. Something stinks here.[/p][/quote]What stinks then? What are you implying? Another member of public who thinks 'Junkies' mean people lying in their own vomit,scabs on face,runny nose saying, 'Im alright,its only a cold' You're a misinformed idiot I would guess who assumes if you take drugs you can't stand up & are incapable of any normal activity. Yes.Hit the bottom,having no where to live with a raging habit etc, maybe you'd be incapable. I suggest rather than make crass statements,do a bit of research. Pathetic. stevobath
  • Score: 0

5:18pm Sat 23 Mar 13

stevobath says...

One thing I will say, is this ladies mentioning of
'the moment' etc, stinks of DBT & the 'clique' of AA & NA.

DBT has made one American woman(surprise) very rich indeed as has AA & NA Rehab Programmes...
One thing I will say, is this ladies mentioning of 'the moment' etc, stinks of DBT & the 'clique' of AA & NA. DBT has made one American woman(surprise) very rich indeed as has AA & NA Rehab Programmes... stevobath
  • Score: 0

7:11pm Sat 23 Mar 13

Loyal2AFCB says...

I have never read such a load of old cobblers in my whole life. Are we supposed to feel sympathy for this pampered mare?
I have never read such a load of old cobblers in my whole life. Are we supposed to feel sympathy for this pampered mare? Loyal2AFCB
  • Score: 0

12:56am Sun 24 Mar 13

s-pb2 says...

Loyal2AFCB wrote:
I have never read such a load of old cobblers in my whole life. Are we supposed to feel sympathy for this pampered mare?
Actually try reading the article!

Its an article about positivity and a form of therapy, its not looking for sympathy.
[quote][p][bold]Loyal2AFCB[/bold] wrote: I have never read such a load of old cobblers in my whole life. Are we supposed to feel sympathy for this pampered mare?[/p][/quote]Actually try reading the article! Its an article about positivity and a form of therapy, its not looking for sympathy. s-pb2
  • Score: 0

7:19am Sun 24 Mar 13

Letcommonsenseprevail says...

And the moral of this story is?? What is the message here?? Go out and buy a horse if you want to get off drugs?
And the moral of this story is?? What is the message here?? Go out and buy a horse if you want to get off drugs? Letcommonsenseprevail
  • Score: 0

4:31pm Sun 24 Mar 13

BackOfTheNet says...

The moral is: rich people get help if they get addicted, poor people don't deserve it.

I think I've read that correctly?
The moral is: rich people get help if they get addicted, poor people don't deserve it. I think I've read that correctly? BackOfTheNet
  • Score: 0

9:39am Mon 25 Mar 13

rozmister says...

mantle wrote:
Tragically a riding accident involving barbed wire on New Year’s Day two years ago left Campero so badly injured he had to be put down.


Its Campero I feel sorry for
I wouldn't let a junkie near my live stock
let alone take them away.
Something stinks here.
I wouldn't let a judgemental ignorant fool like you anywhere near my live stock. But hey Campero wasn't either of ours so what we'd do doesn't matter in the slightest - it's none of our business what the discussion and decisions were between Stephanie and Campero's old owner. Unfortunately animals do get caught in barbed wire occasionally whether their owners are recovered addicts or not.

Writing someone off because once they were an addict is disgusting and exactly what's wrong in our society. People with addictions need rehabilitation and therapy; somewhere in their brain something has gone awry. If we write them all off then we have a massive group of people who will never have a happy and fulfilling life because they'll be unable to contribute to society and that will, in turn, create more problems because when people feel ostracised from society they won't want to participate and follow social norms that keep society going.

The fact Stephanie has a privileged background is irrelevant. It may have opened up opportunities to her that others didn't have but at the end of the day she was an addict just like the poorest addicts you see on the street. She understands addiction better than most of us and she came back from the brink - fair play to her.

Stevobath - DBT is recognised as an effective form of therapy for some people. It won't work for everyone but there isn't a one size fits all therapy for every individual and their issues. As for the fact it made the creator very rich - everything in medicine works like that. Every drug we get from our Dr makes somebody very rich that's how the system works. The fact someone got rich designing something doesn't mean the benefits are null and void.
[quote][p][bold]mantle[/bold] wrote: Tragically a riding accident involving barbed wire on New Year’s Day two years ago left Campero so badly injured he had to be put down. Its Campero I feel sorry for I wouldn't let a junkie near my live stock let alone take them away. Something stinks here.[/p][/quote]I wouldn't let a judgemental ignorant fool like you anywhere near my live stock. But hey Campero wasn't either of ours so what we'd do doesn't matter in the slightest - it's none of our business what the discussion and decisions were between Stephanie and Campero's old owner. Unfortunately animals do get caught in barbed wire occasionally whether their owners are recovered addicts or not. Writing someone off because once they were an addict is disgusting and exactly what's wrong in our society. People with addictions need rehabilitation and therapy; somewhere in their brain something has gone awry. If we write them all off then we have a massive group of people who will never have a happy and fulfilling life because they'll be unable to contribute to society and that will, in turn, create more problems because when people feel ostracised from society they won't want to participate and follow social norms that keep society going. The fact Stephanie has a privileged background is irrelevant. It may have opened up opportunities to her that others didn't have but at the end of the day she was an addict just like the poorest addicts you see on the street. She understands addiction better than most of us and she came back from the brink - fair play to her. Stevobath - DBT is recognised as an effective form of therapy for some people. It won't work for everyone but there isn't a one size fits all therapy for every individual and their issues. As for the fact it made the creator very rich - everything in medicine works like that. Every drug we get from our Dr makes somebody very rich that's how the system works. The fact someone got rich designing something doesn't mean the benefits are null and void. rozmister
  • Score: 0

10:12am Mon 25 Mar 13

rozmister says...

mantle wrote:
She was an addict just like the poorest addicts you see on the street....

Just like you then.
I don't take drugs, I rarely drink (birthdays and special occasions) but I will admit to my one vice; menthol cigarettes from the corner shop. I know - what a rock and roll life I lead with my crazy addictions!!

I guess when you're too stupid to form a coherent response to someone challenging you the best thing to do is try and smear their comments by making ridiculous statements.
[quote][p][bold]mantle[/bold] wrote: She was an addict just like the poorest addicts you see on the street.... Just like you then.[/p][/quote]I don't take drugs, I rarely drink (birthdays and special occasions) but I will admit to my one vice; menthol cigarettes from the corner shop. I know - what a rock and roll life I lead with my crazy addictions!! I guess when you're too stupid to form a coherent response to someone challenging you the best thing to do is try and smear their comments by making ridiculous statements. rozmister
  • Score: 0

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