“The magic that happens between the horse and equestrian is just that, magic. Our job is simply to allow that to happen in a safe and nurturing environment.” Cindi Winner, EquiGrace, Inc. Founder.
Horse people joke that their horse is their therapist, their therapist lives in a barn, or they pay their therapist in hay and grain. Whether we realize it or not, there is real truth in those statements supported by documented studies that show the infinite benefits that humans receive by being around horses.
Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies (EAAT), are used to treat patients challenged with everything from cerebral palsy and autism, to drug and alcohol dependency and post-traumatic stress syndrome. The benefits range from learning non-verbal communication, relaxation, mental awareness, physical therapy through the movement and rhythm of horses to leadership training and team building. Studies show that people working with horses experience decreased blood pressure, lower stress levels and reduced feelings of tension, anxiety and anger. In addition, studies show you gain feelings of self-esteem, empowerment, patience and trust.
EquiGrace, Inc, is a relatively new Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies facility in our area. Not far from the town of Bailey, EquiGrace is working to get the word out to the special needs community as well as those that would benefit from their Hero’s Program for veterans, police officers, firefighters and emergency personnel, that they have openings for new students and clients.
Twenty-five-year-old Mack Port of Grant, Colorado is a current student at EquiGrace who started Hippotherapy as a child. Hippotherapy is defined as the use of horseback riding as a therapeutic or rehabilitative treatment, especially as a means of improving coordination, balance, and strength. His mom Sandee could see the benefits that Mack received from Hippotherapy to help with his Cerebral Palsy, but unfortunately the drive to the closest facility in Boulder took away from the benefits.
Originally from Philadelphia and South Jersey, EquiGrace’s Founder Cindi Winner, spent the majority of her life doing horse related activities, including showing in English and Western disciplines as well as driving carriages. While horses are a significant part of her life, Cindi realized her first love was teaching. She combined horses and teaching in 2003 when she became a PATH International Certified Instructor (pathintl.org). In 2004 she founded a NARHA center in New Jersey called GRACE Therapeutic Riding Center and discovered the amazing gifts that horses can give to their students. After moving to Colorado, Cindi started teaching EAAT at a facility in Salida.
Mack and his family first met Cindi when she was an aid for Mack in High School. Mack started EAAT with Cindi in Salida and now have a much shorter drive since Cindi moved to Whispering Pines Ranch near the town of Bailey. Sandee was thrilled to be able to start bringing Mack to Equine Assisted Activities and Therapy again. Being with the horses is the highlight of his week, plus they have found a close-knit community to be a part of.
Mack is currently working with Hawk, a Quarter Horse gelding in his mid-20’s. Mack grooms Hawk as well as guides him from his wheelchair through a continually engaging course in the arena. His goal for this year is to be able to get back to riding by the fall. Mack’s family is donating the ramp that is needed to facilitate getting the wheelchair into the correct position for Mack to get in the saddle.
Following Mack’s work with Hawk, he is physically loose and mentally happy. For riding, Mack will start working with Annie, a Percheron cross in her late teens who both rides and drives.
Sandee has learned that Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies takes a special teacher to understand the horses, be a gifted teacher and tie all of that into a fun, engaging and safe environment. She states that there is a significant “symbiotic relationship between Cindi and her horse, and Cindi and her client.”
Could you or someone you know benefit physically and/or mentally from Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies? Visit EquiGrace.com to read more about their programs as well as biographies on the horses and humans. Learn about opportunities to volunteer, donate or even buy any of the horse’s dinner!
Call 303-838-7122 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more. EquiGrace, Inc. is located at 6936 County Road 68 in Bailey, Colorado. Mailing address: PO Box 268, Shawnee, CO 80475. Heather McWilliams © 2017
I Saw A Child by John Anthony Davies
I saw a child, who couldn’t walk, sit on a horse, laugh and talk.
Then ride it through a field of daisies and yet he could not walk unaided.
I saw a child, no legs below, sit on a horse and make it go.
Through woods of green and places he had never been; to sit and stare, except from a chair.
I saw a child who could only crawl mount a horse and sit up tall.
Put it through degrees of paces and laugh at the wonder in our faces.
I saw a child born into strife, take up and hold the reins of life.
And that same child was heard to say,
Thank you God for showing me the way…