Equine Coaches Deliver Healing to Youth in Washington State

Editors Note: This is a blog post by a guest contributor. The views and opinions expressed in this Channel Kindness blog posts belong solely to this contributor.

Today I would like to introduce you to an extraordinary team of individuals who are changing and saving lives. They do it effortlessly and ask for nothing in return. They are equine coaches. Second Chance Ranch is an animal sanctuary located in Spokane, Washington, with the purpose and vision of healing through kindness and acceptance. This distinctly trained herd of retired athletes help facilitate a psychotherapy program called “Leading With Horses” that addresses mental wellness. They deliver healing and education for today’s youth who face issues such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), bullying, and suicide prevention.

Within the equine team, we have many accomplished sport horses, once rising stars of the equestrian community; stakes winning race horses and high point jumpers or dressage performers. With that same intelligence and drive that made them winners in competition, they seek to have another purpose. That purpose lies with people. Their grandstand now resides in a pasture and the finish line in their hearts. These noble beings demonstrate their ability to heal and teach by showcasing their natural gifts of being non-judgmental, giving unconditional love, and being innately pure in spirit. There is no better teacher than these dignified animals who have overcome the hardships of living in a human-dominated world – or have experienced abuse, exploitation. and bullying. By example and interaction, they reveal how to evolve emotionally and to appreciate the value of loving yourself.   

Equine facilitated psychotherapy is another option to conventional talk therapy and counseling. It evolved naturally as the horses stepped in and did their magic with our guests. The interaction between horse and human takes place on the ground (in-hand), and often with the use of an obstacle or agility course to accomplish task-oriented goals.  No prior horse experience is necessary – our equine coaches and human horsemanship instructors have worked as a team for more than a decade. This is a therapy that the health industry is very excited about but could not otherwise offer to their clients. The strength of experiential learning is that the meaning and the process is solely based on the individual’s personal experience, rather than being “taught” through someone else’s experience. The sound of a soft nicker, the warm breath of a horse on your neck, or putting fingers out to touch a muzzle, can do much to open a door to ideas or thoughts not before disclosed. There is no denying the thrill and powerful connection between horse and human as this majestic animal looks to you for leadership and direction.

In a world of technology, voice, the spoken kind has seemed to have lost its importance.  What horses offer is an exploration of the self and self-discovery. A model of show and not tell. We can’t tell our youth of today what to become. Time spent with the horses invites you to see the raw truth about yourself, bathed in acceptance and love. Horses respond with unique insight into exactly who we are in the moment. They are an excellent source of organic biofeedback able to mirror our emotions and provide non-judgmental feedback. The feedback is correct because horses do not lie. Not because they are altruistic, but because they are incapable of deceit as an animal who cannot concoct an alternate tale of reality. We learn by example, the skills of leadership, kindness, empathy, forgiveness … the more kindness and patience received from the horse, the more a person wants to encompass those traits themselves. All part of becoming more enlightened and functional.

Through the guided horsemanship and counseling that Leading With Horses offers, voice can be found. Stronger, wiser, better decision makers, evolve then into the truth-seekers, leaders, and innovators of tomorrow.   

To sum it all up – a quote from a mentor and inspiration who made Leading With Horses possible: “We can give and create the love that may not have been our experience but resides within us. In that, I have never been disappointed in the affection and honesty the horse has returned.”  –Pam Padgett

On behalf of the Second Chance Ranch Herd and Team, we wish all of you love, peace and joy. To learn more about Second Chance Ranch, please visit our website; www.SecondChanceRanch.org  or email info@SecondChanceRanch.org.

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