Speaking Freely With Horse Whisperer & Cancer Survivor, Rachel Vercoe

Rachel, please introduce yourself.. 

At 28 years old, I always thought I’ve lived a fun, adventurous, outdoors and animal loving life. As with everyone at some stage in their lives, I’ve been through my share of struggles as well. 

I grew up by the ocean, spearfishing and diving with my parents and big sister. Our family holidays always consisted of heading to remote areas for camping trips. A couple of my favourites being spending two months travelling around Cape York and heading to an island paradise in the Great Barrier Reef every couple of years. 

With a love for horses as a child, that passion never faded and when I finished school, university and travelling, I got my first horse, Willow. She is my heart horse, my soul mate and best friend. We’ve learnt so much together and just over a year ago, my second horse joined our herd.

When I turned 25, my life was flipped upside down when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. When my friends were getting married, having babies or travelling the world, I was loosing my hair to chemotherapy, facing an unknown future, loosing my breasts to a double mastectomy and facing medically induced menopause for at least five years.


A day in my life looks like...

My day always starts with giving the horses their breakfast hay before grabbing my own. If it’s a work day, I’ll quickly get ready for work and head into town. 

During hot summer days, as soon as I finish and get home, I throw on my swimmers, grab the horses and lead them to one of the waterholes we are lucky to have on our property. It’s the perfect way for us all to cool down and the horses can fully swim. 

There’s always lots to do around the property and I usually spend some time in the afternoon on them. If the ocean is calm and the visibility clean, I grab any opportunity I can to get out in the boat for a dive. 

Outside of work, my day is spent mostly outdoors and I love it

Not many people know that I...

Live in a tiny home. I love having a small area to live in because in reality, I spend most of my time outdoors. 

It’s still a work in progress but it’s been fun seeing the place transform into my own dream little home.


At the age of 25 you were diagnosed with cancer: what is the one thing that you wish more people knew about Breast Cancer?

You are never too young. It’s a terrifying thought but it’s the reality of it. The statistics for getting breast cancer under the age of 40 is very low but it doesn’t mean it can’t happen. 

All young women should be checking their breasts for any lumps or abnormalities. It’s always better to be on top of your health and aware of your body. 

I discovered my breast cancer when I felt a lump and sought medical advice.

 What is the best advice on health you’ve received?

The importance of knowing your body and doing regular checks. Just because you’re a certain age doesn’t mean you should take your health for granted. If I hadn’t checked my breasts, I would never have found a lump which lead to my diagnosis. 

Regular checks are key to staying on top of your health and is something I’ll continue to do for the rest of my life.


What makes you feel courageous?

Knowing that people face hardships every single day makes me feel courageous. Whether one is worse than the other is insignificant and doesn’t make the other any less hard. 

Knowing that makes me realise we are all strong, we all fight our own battles and through it, we have to be courageous.


How has free diving and spearfishing shaped your environmental knowledge and view of ocean conservation?

Through free diving and spearfishing, I have a first hand understanding and appreciation of the ocean. There’s nothing better than seeing a healthy aquatic ecosystem and diving in different places can really open your eyes to the impact humans have on them.


Beauty to me is…

The natural world. It’s horses galloping across their paddock for the fun of it, it’s hearing magpies singing in the morning, it’s a crystal clear river with deep blue swimming holes, it’s the beach during the glow of a sunrise and appreciating the world around us. 


 We’re in love with your beautiful horses Willow and Oakley: what’s the greatest lesson they have taught you?

They have taught me unconditional love and partnership between animal and human. It’s amazing to have a friendship with such incredible animals and communicate with them through body language. During my cancer treatments, Willow was always where I went to escape the world of cancer. I could just sit with her for even ten minutes and not have to think about what else was happening in the world.


The Haven pieces you’re wearing have been made in Australia; does “made in Australia” hold a special value for you?

Australia is an incredible place to live with an infinite amount of diversity in terrain and animals. Growing up outdoors and continuing that lifestyle definitely makes the label of made in Australia something I value strongly. Wearing something made in Australia makes me feel as proud as living in Australia. 

 This year I’m manifesting…

Finding myself again, meeting like minded people and making memories I will hold onto for the rest of my life.

Rachel wears pieces from our latest Australian made creation, Haven

Follow Rachel on Instagram on @myhorsewillow and @rachel_vercoe