“There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.”
It’s an old philosophical saying usually credited to Winston S. Churchill. However a number of others, including Ronald Reagan, have sometimes been attributed for the comment because of their personal agreeing belief.
Regardless, there’s little disagreement nowadays that being around and handling horses is beneficial to just about any person.
Thus, a number of Equine Therapy programs have been developed to assist especially those facing mental and physical stress issues.
It is sometimes referred to as Horse Therapy, Equine-Assisted Therapy, and Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy involving interactions between patients and horses.
Cindy Branham at the Rockin RC Ranch near Tecumseh has developed an Equine Assisted Mental Health Therapy program.
There’ll be an open house launch party at the ranch on Saturday, April 6, from 1 p.m., to 4 p.m.
“With all the buzz over ‘The Mustang’ movie coming out this month, our story is a great highlight to this,” Branham said. “The majority of the horses we will use in our therapy program were all once wild Bureau of Land Management (BLM) mustangs.
“They’re now gentled and ready to help people of all ages. A couple of our mustangs even got their start at the Hutchinson Correctional Center’s BLM mustang training program,” Branham added.
Equine Assisted Mental Health Therapy embraces the philosophy that humans learn by doing, according to Branham.
A mental health professional, an equine specialist, and a horse or multiple horses will work together with the client in an arena.
“We will have a hands-on session that helps facilitate what is learned by the human through the horse human connection,” Branham explained.
To evade predators, horses are extremely sensitive to their environment. “Wild horses believe that we as humans, predators, are going to hunt and eat them,” Branham said. “They instinctively analyze and react to our body language and other nonverbal cues.
“With body language and nonverbal cues, we are able to change the horses fear into trust,” the horse specialist continued. “As a result, we are able to gain insight into our own nonverbal communication and behavior patterns.”
The Rockin RC Ranch, Home of Mustang Redemptions, is a multi-faceted education, gentling, training, and adoption program.
“It redeems the value of wild horses and gives hope to people of all ages,” Branham insisted. “We want to influence and help change the lives of people who are mentally and or emotionally struggling. That’s by introducing them to the healing power of the horse and human connection.”
Rachel Fulcher, mental health professional, and Branham, equine specialist, work together with the horses and the client in an arena.
“This is a team approach of the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association identified as the EAGALA Method,” Branham said.
Clients are invited into a training area for ground-based interaction with horses to facilitate the therapeutic process.
“The EAGALA Method uses horses to mirror clients’ attitudes and behaviors. Horses help clients see things they can’t see in themselves,” according to association description.
“It is not horseback riding or physical therapy. Instead, horses are used to mirror people’s emotions, attitudes, and behaviors,” EAGALA officials explained. “Many clients have said they were able to change and grow more effectively and quickly than through traditional counseling methods.”
A certified mental health specialist, Fulcher is a Licensed Master of Social Work (LMSW) and a Trust Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) practitioner. Branham and Fulcher are both certified in the EAGALA Method.
“All of the work is done on the ground with the horses’ front and center,” Branham described. “Deliberately unhindered and never ridden, the horse is allowed to interact with the client as they wish.
“This creates the space for the client, with support of the professional facilitators, to reflect, project, and make deep connections.”
From adolescents to adults, programs on Mondays and Saturdays will be designed to fit specific needs.
The Rockin RC Ranch LLC open house and launch party will feature a ranch tour and visits with the staff.
Mustangs are to be on display and an equine mental health demonstration is to be presented.
“PTSD is one mental health condition which equine assisted therapy sessions have proven most beneficial,” Branham pointed out.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is triggered by a terrifying event, either experiencing it or witnessing it.
“Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event,” Branham said.
“Equine Assisted PTSD Therapy uses the interaction between horse and human to create an environment built on trust,” Branham explained. “Letting go of fear in both horse and human is the key to producing a trusting partnership.
“In the process of gentling a wild mustang, the human must look within themselves,” she continued. “That offers a safety net to the fearful animal. In the moment this magnificent horse accepts the chance to be free of fear, it is an indescribable feeling.
“The human horse connection-through-trust produces hope that life can be safe again. When the horse puts their lives in our hands it is a promise of freedom.
“The horses past fears, pain, trauma, and loneliness can all be healed through a trusting relationship with a human. This connection can help people find that same hope,” Branham summarized.
The Rockin RC Ranch, Home of Mustang Redemptions, is located at 6248 Southeast 45th Street, Tecumseh, Kansas 66542. Details can be found at www.rcmustangredemptions.com. Phone number is 785-224-1747, and email contact can also be made to [email protected]