The North American Riding for the Handicapped Association, Inc. (NARHA) was founded in 1969 to promote safe and effective therapeutic horseback riding throughout the United States and Canada. Today, NARHA has nearly 800 member centers and over 6,300 individual members in countries all over the world, who help and support more than 42,000 men, women and children with special needs each year through a variety of equine-assisted activity and therapy programs. We are proud to be a Member Center of NARHA. In today’s world the basics of life can so easily become lost. Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) and therapeutic horseback riding are emerging fields in which horses are utilized to promote emotional and physical growth and learning. This approach has been compared to the ropes course used by treatment teams worldwide, however our approach has the added advantage of utilizing horses, dynamic and powerful living beings, just as complex as their human counterparts and with the same basic needs.
Our PATH International (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship) Certified Instructor, who is also co-certified with EAGALA (Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association), uses equine-assisted activities and therapies to help individuals with physical, mental and behavioral challenges gain strength and independence through the power of the horse. We enjoy facilitating ground activities and teaching riding, promoting balance inside and out. People also learn how to care for the horses and other animals.
Lakeview Heights’ Equine Assisted Therapy program is a part of the daily life of the eight residents of Lakeview Heights SRTF. Additionally, for several weeks during the spring, summer, and fall, youth receiving services from the Community Counseling Solutions outpatient offices of Heppner, Boardman, Arlington, Condon, and Fossil can participate in their own group therapy sessions with the horses. Community Counseling Solutions provides transportation for these youth to and from Lakeview Heights.
Currently, the two clinicians facilitating the program are certified with the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA), and utilize this model when working with clients. More information on this model can be found on the official EAGALA website: http://www.eagala.org/about/model Horses are a great motivator to participate in the program.
People can learn about themselves by participating in a wide range of activities. Each activity requires the person or group to apply certain skills such as creative thinking, teamwork, problem solving, non verbal communication, leadership, and responsibility just to name a few. The individuals served may face any number of challenges.
The possibilities are endless, but all benefit from the power of the horse. The sessions are tailored to meet the client’s or group’s needs. From horses, learning about the ways of life becomes natural. Learning responsibility for others than yourself, learning self-esteem and developing an engaging personality, being able to talk with anyone with confidence, knowing how to express your self with more than words, learning the value of money and how dollars can be translated in to hay bales, bags of grain or even a farrier visit, learning how to read your surroundings and how to see safe and unsafe situations, to look for dangers where someone else may only see a beautiful field filled with flowers, learning to plan ahead, knowing the choices you make now will affect you five years down the road – all these can be learned from horses. With horses the education is endless and the rewards great.
Our focus is to facilitate a powerful, effective, interesting and fun therapeutic alternative. One of the greatest attributes is seeing people process their own solutions for their own situations, and see their emotional and physical health improve. The growth and learning of everyone involved is intense and rewarding.