When We Know Better, We Do Better

There is a growing body of knowledge about the long-term, life changing impact of early childhood trauma. In this post on the Institute for Attachment and Child Development website they take a look at how “Early trauma negatively impacts the brain and neurobiology during critical periods of development”.

Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, developed the term Developmental trauma disorder (DTD) to describe the “effects of long-term exposure to trauma—typically profound abuse and neglect by caregivers (but can include traumatic medical procedures or community violence)—during the first three years of life”


The post goes on to talk about the far reaching impact, which can include: Alcoholism and alcohol abuse, depression, illicit drug use, poor work performance, smoking, suicide attempts, risk of sexual violence and poor academic achievement, among others.

The post does talk about things that can be done to help survivors heal. It is vital that caregivers understand the issues they are dealing with and that they learn the parenting skills that will help them help their child.


The post also talks about what we can do for the child, such as helping them learn and practice healthy ways of dealing with ‘trauma triggers’ and learning to express their feelings rather than acting out. These are areas that we can address through work with horses. Additionally, our clients have the opportunity to improve self-confidence and self-esteem, important components in helping those who have experienced trauma find a path to a healthier, happier and more productive life.

The bottom line – a child who has experience early childhood trauma may very well need special care and support to heal and be successful. There are resources available and we are here to be part of a comprehensive treatment team. Give us a call or send us an email to find out more. We will be happy to schedule a tour for you. We will show you around the ranch, introduce our wonderful herd, learn more about what you are dealing with and share how we may be able to help.

Posted in Addiction, ADHD, Anxiety Disorders, Children's issues, Depression, Mental Health, ODD, Other challenges, PTSD, Reactive Attachment Disorder, Teens, Trauma | Leave a comment

The Importance of Doing Less

I was thinking about this all night and was eager to get this written this morning. Often we race through our days, herding our children from one activity/event to another. Sports, music lessons, amusement parks and so much more. And of course there is always heavy emphasis on doing well in school.

Sadly, our kids are often left overwhelmed and exhausted by all the running around and at least implied pressure to do well. Playing sports or even visiting a roller rink, water park or other amusement park, may be an opportunity for sensory overload. More and more we are finding that doing things that are less intense, things that are just easy and low stress, allows our kids to relax and enjoy just being.

Kids will do better when they don’t feel so overwhelmed and pressured. They will feel safe and loved when we take the time to let them do things that they can feel good about and be good at. Don’t get me wrong, academic performance is important, but if school work is overwhelming and always a source of unhappiness, our kids will learn to not only hate school, but feel so badly about themselves.

We need to be sure that our kids have the chance to simply be. Do a non-structured art project. Take a walk. Read to them. Allow them to do something that is not about what they ‘accomplish’ but more about enjoying themselves.

Help them find wonder in everything around them. Not surprisingly, I would include work with horses in this category of things they can do to enjoy themselves! Our clients learn about horses and herd behavior. Did you know that horses were alive during the time of dinosaurs? Yep, it’s true.

Leading and grooming a horse is a very gentle form of exercise. It allows kids to have a moment where they can relax and let go of the stress of the day. Though we have activities set up for each session, no client is required to do anything other than to interact in a kind, gentle and safe way with their horse. Many of our clients will carry this experience with them throughout their busy lives and draw on this moment in times of stress or anxiety.

The bottom line is that we help our kids find balance in their lives. If they constantly feel under pressure and overwhelmed, nothing they do will be done well. Be sure that you build into the day time to relax and just be.

Thank you again, to all of you who see this and work so hard to see that you children have the opportunities they need to grow and become the best they can be.

Posted in ADHD, Anxiety Disorders, Asperger's, Children's issues, Depression, In my opinion, Mental Health, OCD, ODD, Other challenges, PTSD, Teens | Leave a comment

ADHD…Why Horses?

Kids and teens with ADHD can struggle in so many areas. They often need constant supervision to accomplish the simplest daily tasks. They are disorganized and struggle to remember what they are supposed to do next. They lack focus and can be impulsive. And sadly, their peers and adults can lose patience with them, leading to relationship problems, low self-esteem/confidence and even depression. This is certainly not what we want for the children/teens we care for!

There is a lot of evidence that work with horses can be very helpful for those struggling with ADHD. This article in ADDITUDE Inside the ADHD mind shares some of the benefits, from increased focus to better inter-personal skills.

We see it all the time! Horses are prey animals and sudden movements or loud noises worry them, so our clients learn that they need to slow down and be more mindful when working around their horses.

Another gift that horses give us is that they are incredibly non-judgemental and accepting of us. They take us at face value. If we are kind and affectionate with them, they reciprocate, giving us the opportunity to build a bonded relationship with another living creature. This bond can help our clients develop empathy. Increased focus, improved problem solving skills and increased self-confidence are all other benefits that our clients receive through work with horses.

We work with children as young as 4, teens, adults and even seniors. Our clients start out on the ground, with clients learning to be safe and building the relationship they will need to be successful with their horse. Eventually our clients progress to mounted work, where they put the things they learned on the ground about communicating with their horse into practice.

If you know a child or teen who is struggle with ADHD, work with horses may be able to help. We are here to be part of a comprehensive treatment team, providing social, emotional and behavioral growth and learning, as well as Psychosocial Rehabilitation (PSR), a mental health intervention.

Give us a call or send us an email. We will schedule a time for you to visit the ranch. We will show you around, introduce the horses in our herd, learn more about what you are dealing with and share how we may be able to help.

Posted in ADHD, Anxiety Disorders, Children's issues, Depression, Mental Health, OCD, ODD, PTSD, Teens | Leave a comment

How Work With Horses Helps Those With ADHD

Our kids can struggle. They have a hard time in school. They have a hard time at home and they have a hard time with relationships. We have to keep after them to get even simple daily tasks done. They feel overwhelmed. We feel overwhelmed. Everyone can lose unless we come up with strategies that work!

One of the biggest things that can happen is that we become so focused on all the ‘negative’ things that self-esteem and self-confidence suffer. Our kiddos begin to see themselves as ‘bad’ and incapable of doing things well. They may have few friends. Heck kids know when another kid is always in trouble. The truth is, we are happy when our kids avoid ‘trouble makers’! How sad is that?

This great article KQED/NPR article talks about the 5 strengths we can help our children develop that will help them minimize the struggles of ADHD.

I love the ‘Five C’s method — self-Control, Compassion, Collaboration, Consistency and Celebration…’ that is spelled out here! And guess what? We work on all these areas in our work with horses!

Our client’s learn to keep their energy down so that they do not worry their horses. They build caring, bonded and mutually respectful relationships with their horse and the Qualified Mental Health Associate (QMHA) that they work with.

They learn that sometimes they need help and how to ask for it and accept it with good grace. They learn that horses like it best when we are ‘firm, fair and consistent’ in the way we work with them AND we always celebrate achievements!

Work with horses can help with so many issues. ADHD is one of them. If you know a child or teen who is struggling, we are here to help. Call or email and we will schedule a time for you to visit the ranch. We will show you around, introduce our wonderful herd, learn more about what you are dealing with and share how we might be able to help.

Posted in Addiction, ADHD, Anxiety Disorders, Asperger's, Children's issues, Depression, Mental Health, OCD, ODD, PTSD, Teens | Leave a comment

Why Teens Benefit From Work With Horses

Teens can struggle with so much. On one hand, they may crave the comfort and safety they felt when they were younger, but on the other hand, they are genetically programed to pull away and to become their own person. This can lead to all kinds of challenges. If we add to this any kind of trauma or additional stress, it is not surprising that many teens fit the definition of ‘at-risk’.

In this Colorado State University article, the focus is on what the benefits of Equine Assisted Therapy are for at-risk-youth. It provides a nice description of what equine assisted therapy looks like and discusses the benefits of this type of work.

Look, we have all seen how resistant teens can be to most ‘interventions’. However, the magic of horses can be incredibly powerful.

We see it all the time. Improved self-confidence. The ability to set safe and appropriate boundaries for themselves and others. Better problem solving skills. Improved emotional regulation and so much more. The unconditional acceptance and non-judgemental interactions with horses really appeals to teens, who often feel that everything they do is judged and that only if they meet certain standards will they be accepted.

If you know a teen that is struggling, we are here. Call or email us and we will schedule a time for you to visit the ranch. We will show you around, introduce our wonderful horses, learn more about what you are dealing with and share how we may be able to help.

Posted in Addiction, ADHD, Anxiety Disorders, Bipolar, Depression, Eating Disorders, Grief, Mental Health, OCD, ODD, PTSD, Schizophrenia, Teens | Leave a comment

Why Kids Do What They Do


Oh my goodness, we have all worked with a child who just seems to react to everything in a negative way. They fight with siblings and are rude and resistant to caregivers, teachers and other adults. They frustrate us and become even more obstinate when we get angry.

But hold on. The truth is, something is driving this behavior. When we stop to consider that it may not simply be a child not wanting to do what we ask, we may discover that their are much more complicated things going on.

When we are able to see that a child is feeling anxious, we should be able to change the situation and change the behavior! This article in The Inquirer Daily News, the author, Julie Furst, a child and adolescent psychiatry fellow, shares her experiences with childhood anxiety.

We see it a lot. Caregivers are at a loss as to how to deal with difficult behaviors. When we talk with them, we often discover that the behaviors happen in very specific situations that may be triggers for a child’s anxiety. This is especially true when working with children who have suffered trauma. They may find transitions/change of any type very scary. They may seem to always want things ‘their way’. It may be that this is the only way that things feel safe to them. When we understand that the behaviors are ‘fear driven’ we are able to address them in a very different way.

Work with horses can be a very powerful way to address anxiety issues. Our clients learn and practice self-soothing/self-calming strategies. They discover that they can set boundaries that keep them safe. Their self-confidence grows as they begin to see themselves as ‘leaders’. And, we help caregivers develop the tools they need to manage the behaviors as well.

If you know a child struggling with behavior issues, you may want to consider what is at the bottom of the behaviors and seek the help you need. We are here to be a part of a comprehensive treatment plan. We would be happy to schedule a visit to the ranch. We will show you around, introduce our wonderful horses, learn more about what you are dealing with and share how we may be able to help. Call or email today!

Posted in ADHD, Anxiety Disorders, Asperger's, Autism, Bipolar, Children's issues, Depression, Mental Health, ODD, PTSD, Reactive Attachment Disorder, Teens | Leave a comment

Equine Therapy and Depression

We know that so many people are struggling with depression. From very young children to senior citizens, depression is now the leading cause of disability world wide.

This great article in Medical Express talks about how we can build resiliency through recalling good experiences and even gives some positive results from a study conducted by University of Cambridge and University College London. It is so important that our children, teens and even adults have the tools they need to stay healthy and happy and frankly, there is lots of evidence that work with horses can be a very powerful tool!

We see it all the time in our work. Horses offer so many opportunities for creating healthy and happy feelings and memories. This article from Equine Assisted Therapy – Australia, covers many ways that work with horses can help those struggling with depression.

Whether we are talking about a 4 year old who has been removed from their family due to abuse or neglect, a teen living through their parents tough divorce, an adult trying to recover from the loss of a loved one, or so many other life-events that can trigger depression, horses can be a powerful part of a good treatment plan.

If you or someone you know is struggling, seek help. We are here. Call or email and we will schedule a time for you to visit the ranch. We will introduce our herd, show you around the ranch, learn more about what you are dealing with and share how we may be able to help.

Posted in Addiction, ADHD, Anxiety Disorders, Asperger's, Bipolar, Children's issues, Depression, Eating Disorders, Grief, Mental Health, PTSD, Teens, Trauma | Leave a comment

Equine Therapy Has Far Reaching Benefits

We know this to be true, but it is always so moving for me to hear about how horses are helping people to heal and I often hear it in the most unexpected places!

While listening to NPR radio yesterday (11/29/18) I heard a story about a musician who had gone into rehab for serious addiction issues. Matty Healy is a driving force behind the band The 1975. In this NPR interview he talks about his addiction struggles and how, while in rehab he connected with a horses. He shares that at first he was a bit skeptical, but that in the end “… it eventually became amazing.”

Like I said, we know this is true because of what we see happening for the clients we work with. We work with children, teens, adults and even seniors. Our treatment team of Qualified Mental Health Associates focus on each client’s specific goals and objectives to help them find their path to a happier, healthier and more productive and fulfilling life, through work with horses.

If you or someone you know is struggling, seek help. Give us a call of send us and email and we will arrange a time for you to visit the ranch. We will show you around, introduce our incredible herd, learn more about what you are dealing with and share how we may be able to help.

 

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The Benefits Are Undeniable

Though our program is not a traditional ‘Therapeutic Riding’ program working with people with physical and cognitive challenges, and utilizing ‘side walkers’ and ‘horse handlers,’ we do work with many children, teens and even adults on the autism spectrum.

This is a wonderful article, from the University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus,  on their study about how work with horses helps people on the autism spectrum. The findings support the Equine Therapy offers many benefits, including decreased irritability, as well as better social and communications skills.

Guess what? Along with our focus on each client’s individual goals, all of our clients receive these benefits too!

If you have a child or teen on the spectrum or who is dealing with social, emotional, behavioral or mental health issues, give us a call or send us an email to schedule a visit to the ranch. We will give you a tour, introduce our incredible herd of horses, learn more about what you are dealing with, and share how we might be able to help.

 

Posted in ADHD, Anxiety Disorders, Asperger's, Autism, Children's issues, Depression, FAS, Mental Health, OCD, ODD, Other challenges, Teens | Leave a comment

How Trauma Changes Us

We talk about the people who have died in shooting incidents. We talk about those who are killed while serving our country. We talk about those who lose everything in a massive wild fire. We talk about those who slip away due to addiction issues. These are all shattering events and we mourn those who are lost. However, we often neglect to consider the long term consequences for the ‘survivors,’ especially the children who may very well carry the aftermath of trauma with them for the rest of their lives.

In this fascinating article from PsychCentral, we can take a look at the physical changes that take place in the body and brain of those who survive trauma. They paint a grim picture, but do go on to say “…these alterations can be reversed.” but note that “…healing will be individual. There is no one-size-fits-all or personal guarantee for what will work…”

A lot of research has been done on how work with horses can help those struggling with PTSD. Here are a few studies that I think make the case.

*Equine‐assisted psychotherapy: a mental health promotion/intervention modality for children who have experienced intra‐family violence

*Therapeutic Value of Equine-Human Bonding in Recovery from Trauma

*Equine Facilitated Therapy with Children and Adolescents Who Have Been Sexually Abused: A Program Evaluation Study

The truth is, we know because we have seen the results for ourselves. Equine Assisted Psychosocial Rehabilitation (PSR) can be a powerful part of the treatment for those dealing with the aftermath of trauma. We are here to help. If you, or someone you know, are struggling please seek help. Email or call and we will schedule a time for you to visit the ranch. We will show you around, introduce our incredible herd of horses, learn more about what you are dealing with and share how we may be able to help.

 

 

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