PR for People Monthly September 2017 - Page 19

Equine Partnerships. Listed today as founder and director, Abigail earned certifications from the recognized Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association, Inc. (EAGALA) and Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning & Therapeutic Riding Instructor from the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International and is pursuing further affidavits.

Abigail likes to describe the operation of Chinook Horses as a four pointed star. There are, of course, the client(s) and the horses. The other point represents the certified equine therapist. The fourth point represents a licensed therapist and/or special education professional.

Clients do not ride the horses but interact with the horses at will on the ground which allows difficult, anxious, insecure or resistant clients to approach and reveal their problems in a different way. The therapists are in the arena with the client(s) but invite the client(s) to interact and observe the horses. Clients who feel useless because their condition doesn’t permit them to hold a job, all of a sudden develop a sense of themselves in relation to the horses.

Robert Bakko, a licensed clinical professional for 42 years, over a year ago got certified in the EAGALA modality. Bob finds that you can observe in one session many aspects important to the therapy.

For example, Bob and Abigail prepared a designated area in the rink to which a horse had to be lead. It was a mindful exercise. A couple in therapy trying to improve their relationship were asked to lead a horse through the course. It was how the husband and wife each undertook the problem that revealed each one’s attitude and solving-problem methods.

Kelly Melius, whose specialty is Autism and other special needs, is a licensed and certified PLAY (Play and Language for Autistic Youngsters) Project and Autism Specialist. Kelly explains that allowing these children and young adults to interact with horses teaches them leadership qualities, and the all important social thinking rules and tools. The group is taught the all important “Think with your eyes,” “Start positive chain reactions,” “Keep your body in the group,” and “whole body listening,” and “Follow the leader.” For instance, this group was asked to lead a horse through an obstacle course without a lead-rope and halter. After many tries, a group discussion on how to do it ensued. Finally, the group decided that they would get the horse to follow one of the participants by shaking a bucket as if food were in it. The designated leader, a 13-year-old boy, got the horse to move by shaking the bucket and another 18-year-old young man provided support. Everyone in the group felt that each person had helped to meet the challenge.

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Edith Lynn Beer is a seasoned journalist who covers news in Colorado, Montana and Wyoming.