People/Families of People with Cancer
Young Adults (20-25 years)
2019 we started this new group and partnered with Boulder Community Hospital (BCH) to provide relief and community for women suffering with breast cancer and those who've completed treatment.
Groups are once a week for 8 weeks and allows these women a safe space to explore their feelings with others going through a similar experience.
In 2019 Wholeness with Horses was one of our most attended and requested programs. We held 2 sessions during the year and each one was full (with waiting lists).
We asked those who attended to complete an evaluation and we had 100% agreement that feelings of confidence, calm and ability to regulate their emotional state had improved after the 8 week sessions.
Adolescents/Youth (13-19 years)
Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transgender
Young Adults (20-25 years)
During the spring of 2019 we ran a grant-funded group for LGBTQ teens. During the fall, we ran a separate grant-funded group for LGBTQ young adults. The focus of the groups was to help build confidence, work on healthy coping skills, communication, and boundary setting. Participants learned how their own body language and cues affect relationships and learned how to set their intention to build stronger connections and healthier relationships.
According to those who've attended, they felt more confident, less stressed and able to self regulate.
Young Adults (20-25 years)
This class, open to the community, teaches participants basic principles of mindfulness. Through the use of Qigong, breathing, and present moment awareness, participants learn how to be present and to connect.
This program began in 2018. We have many participants who have come since the programs inception.
Children Only (5 - 14 years)
Ethnic/Racial Minorities - General
This project is a collaboration with Tru Community Care Hospice to provide equine-assisted growth and learning programs for bereaved children ages 10 to 15. The Healing Circles Program (which is the children's program in Hospice) is specifically designed to create a safe environment in which the children can learn to express their sense of loss and to integrate this loss into their new lives. Similarly, through exercises with the horses, children learn to trust themselves and the horses-a huge hurdle for any child who has recently experienced the death of someone they relied upon to provide security. The goals of this program are for youth to develop the ability to talk about death and the meaning of this loss in their lives, relearn how to trust themselves and others, learn how to take healthy and safe risks, and develop new relationships and a new self-identity.
Therapists and volunteers and clients offer evidentiary stories of client success. One little girl, Ronni, whose mother committed suicide, felt different from the other children at school. They teased her; they called her names. Meeting the horses, she said that they did not judge her. She began to find friends at school who did not judge her or treat her differently. After the program, she continued riding lessons at MHP. As she gained confidence in her riding skills, she gained self esteem. She continued to ride at Medicine Horse and to compete successfully in horse shows.
Another boy, Jack, lost his grandfather. He bonded strongly with an ancient miniature pony, Carlos, who reminded him of his grandfather. The unspeakable happened. The old pony passed away late one night, just before the boy came for the next session. Therapists and staff were at a loss, all of us grieving for Carlos and unsure how to tell Jack. Could he face any more loss? Jack arrived for the program and the therapist told him that Carlos died. Jack nodded and said, "Grandpa needs him in heaven."
We work closely with Boulder VA to offer Operation Be Herd; where we partner with horses to bring a unique approach to emotional and relationship healing. Observing and interacting with horses, we develop insights into concepts such as how to decrease our reactivity, increase our presence and focus, and how to be with difficult and overwhelming emotional experiences.
Working with horses, we engage in activities that teach mindfulness, regulation, and healthy communication. Learning from the herd, we can connect as a group to create a community that promotes growth, learning, and a sense of inner calm.
After running this program in 2019 we have had multiple requests from the same group and their contacts to continue running the group.
One veteran told us; "This 8 week group session with horses has helped me more than 50 years of talk therapy"
Ethnic/Racial Minorities -- General
Youth/Adolescents only (14 - 19 years)
This program targets low-income youth ages 13 to 18 who are repeat juvenile offenders and other identified at-risk youth who display such behaviors as truancy, substance abuse, anger management problems, depression, and low self-esteem meet in a group format of ten program participants. Equine-assisted therapy provides an opportunity for these youth to gain more control and feel unconditionally accepted by a living being. Interacting with, nurturing and caring for an animal can, in turn, allow a youth the opportunity to experience a reciprocal relationship where, trust, affection and touch are expressed with healthy boundaries and in a nonthreatening, nonjudgmental way. This can inspire youth to revisit their "internal working model," challenging long-accepted assumptions about people and life, and reestablish empathy.
Results indicated that aggregate scores from this sample increased significantly from pre-test (M=168.33) to post test (M=183.93), indicating that clients self-reported a significant increase in coping skills at the end of the 8 week programs.
But just as importantly, teens self report how much the work has helped them. One teen with addictions who had been involved in sex trafficking and in a treatment center said that coming to Medicine Horse Program was the best part of her week. "The fresh air, the sunshine, the horses and the company. They are bringing me back to life. I didn't know how important being in nature was until I couldn't be."
Those in the Just Say Whoa program show a lower rate of recidivism in treatment centers than those who are not.