Healing with Horses
Growing up, my parents were foster parents. I was one of two biological children growing up in a household where my earliest memories centered around conversations of compassion, patience, and understanding. I remember a profound moment when I was nine years old and one of my foster brothers was gloating about how he got to have his own bed. I remember being confused; didn’t everyone have their own bed? He can said “No, I always had to sleep on the couch.” And for the first time, I realized that not everyone was privileged enough to have basic needs; food, clothing, shelter, and love.
Becoming a clinical social worker felt like the most natural calling; helping individuals overcome the obstacles presented by an increasingly stressful world. For the first 6 years of my social work career I focused on Foster Care and Adoptions, learning trauma focused care and treatment. I worked with family on attachment related issues and helped to teach foster families how to understand neglect, abuse, and how it influences behavior in children. I absolutely loved it and to this day, foster care continues to be a passion.
Horses and other rescued animals have also always been a part of my life. My parents would sigh each time I brought home a baby bird that had fallen from its nest or a lost dog that needed help finding it’s owner. Throughout my high school years, I worked for an animal hospital in Bellport NY where I learned enough first aid to heal and care for a variety of common ailments in our furred friends.
During my undergrad years of college, I took a special interest in rescuing horses from the racetrack that could no longer run due to injuries. It was a personal challenge to get the horses to heal and then act calmly enough so that they could be adopted into new homes as riding horses.
The Equine Haven LLC was born of the idea that humans can receive a tremendous amount of fulfillment, joy, and meaning from helping others. The “others” at our facility, just happens to be horses; though the philosophy carries over to any other sentient beings.
I first became a licensed social worker in 2011 where I worked as a Foster Care Consultant helping foster families with foster and adoption related concerns. I changed job roles in 2015 within the same company and in 2015 I became a Licensed Residential Therapist after I finished my Master’s Degree at The Ohio State University. I loved being a residential therapist, despite the long hours it demanded and the intense behaviors the youth presented with.
In 2015, our family became licensed foster parents and that same month, we received two boys into our home. In 2016, we were able to adopt them. Life’s balance between work and family shifted and in 2016 I moved to begin offering therapy in a School Based Setting; offering therapy to children and teenagers at their home schools.
In 2017, we purchased the property for The Equine Haven LLC and launched the first pilot programs for equine assisted mental health therapy. It was a flawless success! The children loved it! The horses loved it! A beautiful symbiotic relationship was born in which rescued horses were matched with children recovering from emotional damage and together, they helped each other heal.