The Horse will teach you, if you will listen.
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The term "special needs" can be stifling. We all have special needs; we all have special strengths. In our program we have the luxury of approaching each learning opportunity from the student's strengths and this yields great results
WHMR Director, Stacey Harnew-Swanson, MA
Stacey has worked with students and taught preschool through college courses. Her biggest, however, influence has been her own children. Stacey's oldest child was especially influential as she was diagnosed as gifted at a young age and later, after discovery of a brain tumor, was placed on the other spectrum of special needs programs. Stacey notes that all the while, she was the same smart and funny little girl. The teaching style Stacey uses at WHMR embodies and is an outgrowth of the lessons her daughter taught her.
It seems truly magical, however research and science is bearing out what many have known for a long time. Relationships with horses help humans-- physically, emotionally and intellectually.
Stacey Harnew-Swanson, MA has been a teacher for over twenty years. In 2005 she began her research in Equine Therapy. Using Mustangs adopted from Oregon's BLM wild horse herds, she started working with children of varying ability levels.
In 2011, with influx of 10 rescue horses (Kiger Mustangs), Stacey expanded her teaching to include adults. The horses were largely untouchable and the adult volunteers were inexperienced. While demonstrating techniques for gentling these horses, Stacey found she was consistently using the words and techniques of Ray Hunt and Tom Dorrance.
The names Hunt and Dorrance are synonymous with Natural Horsemanship. In fact, it was their techniques that gave rise to the development of the main character in famous 1980s film, "The Horse Whisperer." Buck Brannaman was their student and learned much from these wise cowboys. The men espoused a philosophy that requires the person to learn to listen to the horse, to read its needs and meet those needs as they ask the horse to partner with the human. It is quite easy to see how these skills can benefit any human through increased communication skills, increased confidence and, of course, empathy. The lack of these qualities account for many maladies in the human, and here is an engaging way for horses to teach humans how to better themselves.
Research has also pointed to the physical benefits of horseback riding. On the back of a horse the human is elevated to the walking position. The cadence of the horse's stride approximates motion of the human gait and allows the rider to develop core muscles and build the balance and strength that enables the human to walk.
Wild Horse Mountain Ranch
Therapeutic Horsemanship & Mustang Rescue
Copyright 2011 Wild Horse Mountain Ranch-A Mustang Rescue and Center for Therapeutic Horsemanship.
All rights reserved. We are located in Sherwood, OR and open by appointment. Please contact via email. Info@wildhorsemountain.org