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  • Kim Westfall, Founder

Equine Assisted Therapy in Action

Updated: Sep 30

I wanted to share an encouraging story of hope with you today. It comes from Romania and a little girl who visited our Sanctuary. Earlier this year, we hosted a birthday party for our local mayor’s son at The Sanctuary. There were several children running through the forests and enjoying nature. Off to the side stood an 11-year-old girl, *Daniela. She wasn’t interacting or talking with anyone. Our European Director asked a few people about her, and they pointed him to a village woman that had brought her along. The kind woman explained that this little girl had been severely abused by her father for years. She was then passed off to uncles and other men who did the same. As a result of the trauma she had developed some special needs.

Our director noticed Daniela heading over to one of our miniature ponies, or equine therapists, as we like to call them. She began to interact with the pony. She was kissing the ponies’ noses and talking to them. Her guardian asked, “What is going on over there?” Our director replied, “she is talking to the ponies."

The woman said back, “No... she doesn’t speak.”

They went over to Daniela and heard her sweetly whispering to the pony. “I love this pony. This is my best friend. What is his name?” Daniela asked.

“Raphael.”

“What a beautiful name. I love you pony. Would you like to be my best friend? I promise I’ll take care of you and I’ll come back to visit you.” Stunned, Daniela's guardian turned to our director and said, “I don’t understand what is going on here.”

Our director responded, “This is therapy." He asked if he could take a picture. Daniela said “Yes, and please send it to my grandma and tell her I’m safe. I am safe because this pony is strong!

We love this! Equine therapy, also known as Equine-Assisted Therapy (EAT), is a treatment that includes equine activities and/or an equine environment in order to promote physical, occupational, and emotional growth. Equine Therapy can help the individual build confidence, self- efficiency, communication, trust, perspective, social skills, impulse control, and learn boundaries. It will serve as a core facet of our trauma-informed healing program. What a joy and blessing it is that our first Sanctuary came with 15 miniature ponies!

Your support and encouragement has brought this healing environment to life. Here's to hundreds, even thousands of stories like Daniela's.

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