About Our Programs
The Horses & Journeys Wellness Programs offered at Red Barn Stables combine equine-assisted wellness activities with guided hiking to assist participants with identifying and strengthening their own practices for wellness. The projects offer and promote healthy lifestyles and develop and strengthen natural and community-based supports. The Wellness Programs focus on the four basic areas of holistic wellness – physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Participants examine these four areas while experiencing the beauty and healing power of horses and nature. The programs also give participants a brief respite from day-to-day responsibilities and an opportunity to develop relationships with other group members who understand the challenges they face.
Equine-assisted therapy is an experiential approach in which participants safely (both physically and emotionally) interact with horses through observation, brushing, leading (with or without a lead line), and/or engaging the horse in arrangements of poles, cones, or other objects that represent particular goals or situations. No prior knowledge of horses is necessary, as the activities take place on the ground. This project also offers a resource for continued clinical support that isn’t otherwise available through current insurance
markets. including WV Medicaid.
One to two-hour group sessions are provided weekly, and participants can join at any time. Individual and family sessions are available as requested. Sessions are a combination of equine-assisted therapy activities, located at Red Barn Stables, and guided hikes. Red Barn Stables is a 32-acre farm, located 12 miles from downtown Charleston and offers indoor and outdoor arenas for the equine-assisted activities and includes more than 15 acres of wooded areas suitable for hiking. Kanawha County Parks & Recreation properties are also available for hiking. These properties include Coonskin Park and Meadowood Park.
During sessions participants explore the various components of wellness – physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual – and what wellness “looks like” for each of them. Through interaction with the horses, hiking in the woods, and facilitation by the trained staff, participants craft their own personal plan for sustained recovery and wellness. These activities also provide participants the opportunity to form healthy relationships with one another. At least two project staff are present for each session.
Horses are prey, sentient beings. They are highly attuned to their environment and respond to subtle, non-verbal cues and intentions. Horses have the innate ability to quickly connect to what a person is experiencing and feeling, and they provide non-judgmental support and feedback. As participants interact with the horses, metaphors emerge – metaphors which often enable participants to gain greater insight into their thoughts, feelings, behavior patterns, and hidden emotions where words often fail. The guided hiking offers opportunities for improved physical wellness and a healthy recreational alternative that is sustainable. The project gives participants a brief respite from day-to-day responsibilities and an opportunity to develop healthy relationships with others who understand the challenges they face, both of which are effective strategies for sustained recovery and wellness.
About Community Access
Since 2004 Community Access, Inc. has offered the Horses & Journeys programs to various individuals and groups. In 2012, Community Access, Inc. began offering Horses & Journeys programs in partnership with Red Barn Stables. Current projects include Warrior Wellness and Women’s Wellness. Participants report that the sessions help with problem solving, coping, and result in an overall improvement in their quality of life. Community Access has also offered equine assisted therapy to families attending the WV National Guard Gold Star Family weekends since 2012.