Riding Wild Therapeutic Horsemanship: My Journey so far - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 7 Old 04-22-2014, 03:47 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: Northern Ontario
Posts: 49
• Horses: 2
Riding Wild Therapeutic Horsemanship: My Journey so far

Hello all!

I've mostly been chatting in training forums, as I didn't notice this one was here!

I've recently moved back to my hometown, and am starting up my practice here. In the past I've managed EAT/EAL facilities and volunteered extensively. I also worked for Community Living Toronto for five years and have taken psychology in college and university. Currently getting my certification in Therapeutic Counselling.

My model is a bit different from others. I like to rely on the horse for therapy, as opposed to a human/horse combo. I see myself as a facilitator, with the horse as the real therapist :) My program is entirely groundwork, no riding unless the client wants separate lessons. I've seen too many programs passing off riding lessons as "therapy." Really hard when clients are expecting therapeutic and get thrown into jumping lessons.

I'm excited for my program to grow and flourish. I'm the only one in my area that provides therapeutic, so I'm hoping to really build in the next few years.
I've had some great success with clients so far. I'll share one with you guys:

My client (a friend of mine) came out for one of her regular sessions. That day I put her with a different horse, one I knew would give her more of a challenge. As she worked with him, trying to get him to do circle work and front/hind pivots, both she and the horse would get frustrated. She wanted to give up, but I encouraged her to take a breather. So she took him for a walk, pet him, played with him, and then came back. After that her communication was clearer, and she achieved what she was looking for.

After the session, we had a bit of a chat. I asked her what had worked for her. At first she thought it was providing the petting, but then something "popped" and she said, "I stepped away from the situation, did something we both liked, and then came back fresh." She realized that in her current relationship, she kept pushing and pushing during arguments, only making things worse. Now she realized that if she took a break and recalibrated, she would be able to get her point across better and reconcile her relationship.

I am in love with the way horses help therapeutically. They have so many lessons to teach, and each horse has its own way of going about it.

I have holistic additions for those who are willing, and we go out to sit with the herd, just relaxing for ten minutes or so and connecting with the calm brain-wave of the herd. It's a great time to reflect and connect with the herd on a different level, watching the way they interact with each other.

I'm trying to move away from the traditional EAL/EAP models, as I find some methods are dangerous for horse and rider, and some people I've worked with have stepped in as psychologists without knowledge of psychology or a degree. (I have some horror stories, let me tell you).

But with Riding Wild, I really want to keep it simple and provide a positive therapeutic experience that allows my clients to create and maintain a mutually respectful relationship as well as learning to overcome anxiety, control issues, and focus issues.

What kind of work do you do? What worked and didn't work? I want to hear all of your stories :)
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Last edited by SouthernTrails; 04-22-2014 at 05:42 PM.
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post #2 of 7 Old 04-29-2014, 12:31 PM
Green Broke
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Central Oregon, USA
Posts: 2,883
• Horses: 2
I am not personally involved with any equine theraputic programs (other than my own horses letting me cry on their withers) but I wanted to reccommend a book, if you haven't already read it. It talks a lot about the theraputic uses of horses, not just riding: The Tao of Equus.
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post #3 of 7 Old 04-29-2014, 12:35 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: Northern Ontario
Posts: 49
• Horses: 2
Aren't horses amazing for that?

I actually have the Tao of Equus, and am currently reading Naked Liberty (Carolyn Resnick).

I'm working on a Young Adult horse series as well that will include therapeutic horsemanship (I'm a writer when I'm not with the horses :))

I can't wait for real summer to get here so I can get some mini clinics going. Unfortunately I need to build a new round-pen for advanced students as my horse (who is fantastic for therapeutic) jumps the fence with ease.

Have you ever thought about participating in TH?
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post #4 of 7 Old 04-29-2014, 01:08 PM
Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: Colorado
Posts: 7,458
• Horses: 1
Subbing, as I'd very much like to keep up with your endeavors (:

I am not involved with any Therapeutic riding stuffs... But there is a program where I currently board, and I can see all the positive things it does for the 'patients'. Keep up the good work, and keep us updated. (:
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post #5 of 7 Old 04-29-2014, 01:19 PM
Green Broke
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Central Oregon, USA
Posts: 2,883
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I actually was looking for a theraputic program last year for myself to deal with complex PTSD, but could not find one and underwent EMDR instead. It was interesting, though how thoughts of my horses would pop up when i needed a positive image.
I am fairly young in my career, but I do often daydream about going back and changing my degree and setting up a practice like in Tao of Equus.
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post #6 of 7 Old 04-29-2014, 01:26 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: Northern Ontario
Posts: 49
• Horses: 2
It's a really great field that is constantly growing. There are many certification options, but experience is often the best. Understanding behavior, control issues, anxiety, etc. is integral, of course.

Where are you? Are there any programs close by? Volunteering is a great way to get a feel for how it works and methods you may or may not like.

I do know that Linda Kohanov has a certification program, though it's expensive and time-consuming. There is a great program in Ontario called FEEL as well, which focuses less on human therapy and more on the horse as the conduit.

At any rate, it's exciting to watch this field grow and be a part of it :)
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post #7 of 7 Old 05-05-2014, 12:46 PM
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: southern Ontario
Posts: 8
• Horses: 1
I am also interested in this type of horse work. I am an SSW and live in southern ontario. I'll be interested in following your journey.

Karliejay, I have seen wonderful results with EMDR. I hope you have received the help you need. I would also like to work with those with PTSD and see how to mesh with equine therapy. Good luck to you,

and to you 'ridingwild'.
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