Flying High Farm Equine-Facilitated Psychotherapy Program
Flying High Farm, Inc., a member of PATH (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International), incorporates ponies and related activities as a form of therapeutic intervention. All activities are facilitated or supervised by Christine Randle, LICSW, and PATH Certified Registered Therapeutic Instructor and Massachusetts Licensed Riding Instructor; those that Christine supervises are conducted by Sarah Charest, LICSW and PATH Certified Registered Therapeutic Instructor and Massachusetts Licensed Riding Instructor. Click here for Christine's history with horses.
Unlike many other therapeutic riding programs, Flying High Farm specializes in mental health issues, rather than physical disabilities. As an LICSW, Christine is qualified to conduct psychotherapy with individuals while s/he is engaged in equine activities, such as grooming, riding, etc.
|Christine, Sarah and Duncan work with a very young rider. (August 2006)|
What is Equine-Facilitated Psychotherapy?
Equine-Facilitated Psychotherapy (EFP) is therapeutic riding and associated equine activities facilitated by a licensed/credentialed mental health professional working in conjunction with and/or as a certified riding instructor within a clearly defined therapeutic space and setting, with the intent to promote healing and growth. Click here for more information.
At Flying High Farm, EFP focuses on optimizing the behavioral, emotional and social growth of youth. We incorporate the ponies to help establish rapport with clients, to improve compliance with treatment, to maximize the child's involvement and motivation for treatment. Although children do ride the ponies, the goal is not to teach children to ride. If you are interested in your child participating in therapeutic riding or hippotherapy please click here for a list of Massachusetts resources.
Clinical evidence suggests that EFP may help:
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Autism Spectrum Disorders
As with traditional forms of treatment, clinical assessments are conducted and treatment plans developed and followed to ensure the rider is working toward his/her therapeutic goals.
What activities take place in Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy?
EFP sessions are incorporated into one's clinical treatment sessions. Activities can include grooming, feeding, riding, etc. EFP is just one of the clinical interventions utilized by Christine.
Flying High Farm does not have an indoor arena so riding is subject to agreeable weather conditions. In the colder months, equine activities will focus on safety, grooming and tacking or an alternative form of treatment, such as animal-assisted psychotherapy, will be utilized.
It is important to note that these EFP sessions (whether grooming, riding, etc.) are not designed to take the place of one's recreational riding lessons.
What equipment is needed?
Flying High Farm supplies all of the horse's equipment. Helmets are available to riders, although to ensure cleanliness and optimal fit, individuals are encouraged to purchase their own helmets. In addition, riders must wear boots with a heel (hiking boots, riding boots, paddock boots, etc.) and long pants.
Who are Flying High Farm's equine co-therapists?
|Penny joined Flying High Farm on May 22, 2005. Penny is a 15.3 hand, 13 year old chestnut Trakehner mare. Although children do not ride Penny, she is a great ambassador for children who have some anxieties about horses.|
Duncan joined Flying High Farm on Friday, February 20, 2004. Duncan is a 14.1 hand, 22 year old chestnut Welsh/Paint pony.
Duncan is the 2010 NARHA Region 1 Horse of the Year!
|Twizzle joined Flying High Farm on Saturday, March 6, 2010. She is a 14.1 hand, 7 year old Tobiano Piebald pony - a fancy way of saying that she is dark brown/black and white, but mostly white.|
Bramble joined Flying High Farm in April 2011. Sarah Charest, a clinician at FHF, is allowing Bramble to use his charms to help our children. Bramble was born in 2004; he is a silver dapple small pony. At 40" tall (10 hands), he is 4" too tall to be a miniature horse. We don't know his exact breeding.
Bramble is a rescue pony (meaning he was rescued at an auction). Because of Sarah, he has a second chance at a life.
Sea Spray was Flying High Farm's first therapeutic partner. Unfortunately he died unexpectedly on April 3, 2005.
Pixie came to Flying High Farm on September 21, 2006. She is a 13.1 hand pinto mare.
Sadly, Pixie was only with us for three years. She was euthanized on October 27, 2009 following complications from a medical condition.
We are planting Pixie's Garden on the hill next to the barn. Tulips, hyacinths and allium roseums are being planted now so they will bloom in the spring. Stepping stones and other decorations will adorn this pink garden.
How long are sessions?
Individual EFP sessions average 45 minutes in length as do other clinical sessions; group sessions are 45 minutes.
How much does it cost?
Payment for sessions can be made through accepted forms of insurance, out-of-network payment or self-pay. Click here for more payment and insurance information.
How can I get more information?
What is Equine-Facilitated Psychotherapy?
Equine-Facilitated Psychotherapy (EFP) is an emerging field in which horses are a tool for emotional growth and learning.
EFP is experiential in nature. This means that participants learn about themselves and others by participating in activities with the horses, and then processing (or discussing) feelings, behaviors and patterns. This approach has been compared to the ropes courses used by therapists, treatment facilities and human development courses around the world. But EFP has the added advantage of utilizing horses, dynamic and powerful living beings.
Not all programs or individuals who use horses practice Equine Assisted Psychotherapy. For one, licensed clinical professionals need to be involved for it to be considered "psychotherapy." The focus of EFP is not riding or horsemanship. In fact, 90% of EFP takes place purely on the ground. The focus of EFP involves setting up activities involving the horses which will require the client or group to apply certain skills. Non-verbal communication, assertiveness, creative thinking and problem-solving, leadership, work, taking responsibility, teamwork and relationships, confidence and attitude are several examples of the tools utilized and developed by EFP.
EFP is a powerful and effective therapeutic approach that has an incredible impact on individuals, youth, families and groups. EFP addresses a variety of mental health and human development needs including behavioral issues, attention deficit disorder, substance abuse, eating disorders, abuse issues, depression, anxiety, relationship problems and communication needs.
Those who are familiar with horses recognize and understand the power of horses to influence people in incredibly powerful ways. Developing relationships, training, horsemanship instruction and caring for the horses naturally affects the people involved in a positive manner.
The benefits of work ethic, responsibility, assertiveness, communication and healthy relationships has long been recognized. Horses naturally provide these benefits. The use of horses is growing and gaining popularity with the rise of new approaches in working with the horses, including the field of EFP.
We are often asked, "Why horses? Why not other animals?"
Horses are large and powerful, which creates a natural opportunity for some to overcome fear and develop confidence. The size and power of the horse are naturally intimidating to many people. Accomplishing a task involving the horse, in spite of those fears, creates confidence and provides for wonderful metaphors when dealing with other intimidating and challenging situations in life. Horses are very much like humans in that they are social animals. They have defined roles within their herds. They would rather be with their peers. They have distinct personalities, attitudes and moods. An approach that seems to work with one horse, does not necessarily work with another. At times, they seem stubborn and defiant. They like to have fun. In other words, horses provide vast opportunities for metaphorical learning. Using metaphors, in discussion or activity, is an effective technique when working with even the most challenging individuals or groups.
Horses require work, whether in caring for them or working with them. In an era when immediate gratification and the "easy way" are the norm, horses require people to be engaged in physical and mental work to be successful, a valuable characteristic in all aspects of life.
Most importantly, horses have the ability to mirror exactly what human body language is telling them. Many people will complain, "The horse is stubborn. The horse doesn't like me," etc. But the lesson to be learned is that if they change themselves, the horses respond differently. Horses are honest, which makes them especially powerful messengers.
Source: from www.eagala.org (Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association)
High Farm, Inc.
Christine Randle, LICSW
Lunenburg, MA 01462
© 2003 Flying High Farm