Archives for May, 2011

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Equine Therapy: Know Your Horses

Equine Therapy: Know Your Horses





In the field of equine facilitated psychotherapy, there are many variable that can confound the process of attempting to work with horses in healing the ailments that people so often face. And while there are a multitude of resources on exercises to perform, or certifications to obtain, perhaps no one thing is as important as simply knowing the horse you are working with. I share this personal story, as an example.
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Happy Memorial Day: Horses for Heroes

Happy Memorial Day: Horses for Heroes



In celebration of Memorial Day, and as a way to honor our soldiers, this blog is dedicated to the Horses for Heroes program. Horses for Heroes is a partnership program between various NARHA equine therapy programs and the Veterans Affairs department, to provide equine therapy services targeted toward the physical and psychological challenges that veterans face.
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Do Traumatized Horses Makes Good Therapy Horses?

Do Traumatized Horses Makes Good Therapy Horses?



Arriving at a prestigious mansion overlooking the picturesque Pacific Coast Highway, the Clinical Director quickly ushered me into her office, as I attempted to disguise my disbelief that this, of all places, housed some of humanity’s most psychologically challenged individuals.

“So,” she began slowly, “we have already purchased three horses for our equine therapy program.” She pointed out her sliding glass door at a small barn and white fenced pasture extending down the hill toward the house. “They have all suffered extreme trauma,” she paused again and turned toward me, “We thought that the client’s would be able to connect with traumatized horses better.”
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Equine Therapy: A Personal Experience, Part Five

This blog is the last in a series of an accounting of a personal experience with equine therapy, and is also an excerpt from my most recent book, ON THE BACK OF A HORSE: Harnessing the Healing Power of the Human-Equine Bond, now available on Amazon.
I slid off his back and as I hit the ground, my knees buckled, sending me right down to the ground, beneath Nimo. I just sat there. I didn’t want to move. And I couldn’t, really. Sitting under a 3 year old stallion is hardly safe under any circumstances, but just then, I didn’t care. I didn’t feel any fear, and couldn’t stop crying in any event. 
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Equine Therapy: A Personal Experience, Part Four

This blog is the fourth in a series describing a personal experience with equine therapy, as well as an excerpt from my most recent book, ON THE BACK OF A HORSE: Harnessing the Healing Power of the Human-Equine Bond, now available through Amazon.
His sides were tight with bound energy, and I squeezed harder than I should have. Often, the first steps forward will spook a young horse, too, as they feel the weight of a rider for the first time. Sometimes as they feel this weight, and perceive the rider moving along with them, they’ll bolt away in fear. I wanted to push past this; I didn’t want to take the time to reassure Nimo. I didn’t even have both hands on the reins. I just wanted to trust him. And, sure enough, those first steps forward were anything but hesitant. He marched forward with the authority of a horse many years older.

Then, all of the sudden, he swung his head around, arched his back, leaped into the air, and landed cantering off – not so much in fear, as what seemed awfully like glee. Nor was I afraid. I just pushed him forward, gripping the reins in one hand, the other still resting on his neck. Instinctively, I lifted myself up off of his back a bit, supporting my weight with my legs. We galloped around the ring with a big bounding stride better suited to a horse twice his size and he played – hopping and leaping, changing leads every three strides. I just let him go. I didn’t have the strength to stop him, and somehow, I knew not to.
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Equine Therapy: A Personal Experience, Part Three

This blog is the third in a series describing a personal accounting of a healing experience with a horse, and is also an excerpt from my most recent book, ON THE BACK OF A HORSE: Harnessing the Healing Power of the Human-Equine Bond, now available on Amazon.

As I slid the saddle onto his back, he reached back to nip at me as he always did.  He had worn the saddle many times before in preparation for being ridden, and his attitude was always a bit bothered, as if to say, Fine I’ll wear that silly thing, but it had better be grateful for the ride. I put the bridle on, and pulled the reins over his head. Then, giving Nimo a pat on the neck, I walked him out of the grooming stall, and into arena.
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Equine Therapy: A Personal Experience, Part Two

This blog is the second in a series describing a personal accounting of a healing experience with a horse, and is also an excerpt from my most recent book, ON THE BACK OF A HORSE: Harnessing the Healing Power of the Human-Equine Bond, now available on Amazon.

Six hours old, and he thinks he owns the world. I quickly shooed him away, to let him know that charging people was not acceptable. Surprised as much as I had been, he jumped away. Then, he turned around and came right up to me again. This time, though he seemed to be approaching me out of curiosity. If I was as tough as him, maybe I had something to offer.
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Equine Therapy: A Personal Experience, Part One

As equine therapy is truly a modality that is best experienced, as opposed to described, sometimes it is helpful to share a personal accounting of a way in which a horse can help a human. Therefore, this blog post is actually an excerpt from my book, ON THE BACK OF A HORSE: Harnessing the Healing Power of the Human-Equine Bond. This is part one in a series:

My introduction to what equine facilitated psychotherapy really is was one that, like most moments of sagacity, left me utterly speechless. Even of more consequence to me was the fact that I had known horses my entire life, having ridden for almost as many years, and been involved in every aspect of the horse business from training, breeding, showing, transporting and mending horses, from the age of five. Yet I had, as many so often do, failed to consider my horses’ capacity for any awareness beyond that of my own.

While I recognized horses were highly intuitive and had even had moments with them that evidenced this, I had never once imagined that they knew more about me, than I knew about me. In fact, it was the other way around – I thought I knew more about them, than they knew about them.
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