This spring, Dunham House will relaunch its successful Equine Therapy Program. In this program, a group of residents spend up to six weeks with a horse; each feeding it, cleaning out its stall, grooming it, and finally working with the horse outside. The objective is to help residents develop their confidence and non-verbal skills, such as controlling their feelings. They in effect learn “Horse”, a language based on emotion and confidence. By the end of the program, they have discovered that, with a simple touch or a gentle word, their horse will work with them. It’s all about self-control.
“We know that this works,” says Anthony Berger, Clinical Supervisor, “because we test each participant at the beginning, and the end of the program. The improvement is always astonishing. We always see significant increases in confidence and self-esteem.” Many participants comment that this is their favourite part of their stay at Dunham House. Many wish to do this again.
Equine Therapy is quite common in the U.S. but is not in Canada. Being located in the country and in horse country as well, Dunham House is very grateful to a local farm that provides the setting and the horses. The program began in 2014 but was cancelled during lockdown in 2020. Because the interaction is between a person and a horse, it should fit into whatever COVID situation we find in 2021. This program is only open to residents of Dunham House.