Spirit Ranch continues to give more horse therapy

Spirit Ranch continues to give more horse therapy

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Spirit Ranch continues to give more horse therapy

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Las Cruces Bulletin

A visit for a donation from the Good Samaritan Society – Las Cruces Village Tuesday, June 9, was hopefully the first step for Spirit Ranch to extend its Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) from young people to seniors.

Ann Remick-Barlow, a licensed independent social Worker who started Spirit Ranch 12 years ago, said it has been a dream to give older people access to EAP that she sees helping children.

On Tuesday, a group of seniors from Good Samaritan arrived to donate $5,500 to Spirit Ranch’s Helping Kids Be Kids Foundation, along with 21 backpacks filled with school supplies made possible by donation from Molina Healthcare.

The backpacks were distributed to children attending Spirit Ranch’s summer camp, where students grouped in “herds” with counselors swim and interact with the ranch’s horses, dogs and donkeys.

Spirit Ranch, Remick-Barlow said, is the kind of place she dreamed about as a kid. After finding and buying the ranch, her dream has helped children open up in ways that don’t normally come easy in a traditional therapy session, she said.

“What we really do here is help families relax,” she said. “We help children be themselves.”

Often, the children will confide to an animal what they might not tell an adult, she said.

EAP is meant to be a short-term collaborative tool for emotional growth and learning for children, families, adult women and men and soldiers.

In terms of interacting with the horses, it can be “ground work” that involves interacting with the horses through grooming, haltering and walking them around the pens.

For example, when children have to get a horse to come to them, they learn interaction skills that forces them to ask questions about what the horse wants and how to use that to get it to cooperate with them.

Spirit Ranch also provides riding therapy, as well. Most sessions are conducted by a team composed of therapists, horse specialists, participants and horses. Sessions are typically about one hour long, once or twice a week, according the participant’s needs.

The ranch staff includes a four parttime counselors with master’s degrees in social work or family therapy, four equine-assisted therapists and five volunteers. The ranch’s foundation has a board of directors.

Remick-Barlow said she has seen children’s behavior calmed by their interaction with the animals, reducing the need to resort to behavioral medications. She said she believes seniors can also see similar benefits from being in contact with the animals.

For more information, Remick-Barlow can be contact by calling 6429111.

Todd G. Dickson may be reached at 680-1983 or todd@ lascrucesbulletin.com.

Todd G. Dickson

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