If you’ve ever felt the need to improve your physical or mental health, or you’re looking for a personal or professional development opportunity, we bet you’ve never thought of looking for help in a horse barn! Yet, the growing field of equine...
If you’ve ever felt the need to improve your physical or mental health, or you’re looking for a personal or professional development opportunity, we bet you’ve never thought of looking for help in a horse barn! Yet, the growing field of equine therapy is showing us that spending time with animals can be extremely beneficial to our well-being. In the first part of this special 2-part series, we welcome our expert guests, Alia Shahi and Becky Nibecker, as they each share the experiences and wisdom that they’ve gained from their fascinating work with horses.
Alia works for a non-profit organization called Reins of H.O.P.E. as an EAGALA certified Equine Specialist, assisting in providing equine assisted psychotherapy to at-risk youth and military personnel. She is currently pursuing licensure as a Marriage and Family Therapist, and recently graduated with a master’s degree in counseling psychology. Horses have been Alia’s passion since she was a child. They have taught her some of the greatest life lessons she has learned thus far: how to show up as a partner, that leadership has nothing to do with dominance, and the importance of present-centered connection. Today, the wisdom and knowledge they pass on to her continues to inform her as a single parent, an equine specialist, a mental health clinician, and as a human.
Becky Nibecker was first introduced to Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) upon starting her 25th year as an educator. She was fascinated to learn that horses are motivated by pressure and learn by the release of that pressure. That year, as a middle school principal, her opening faculty meeting included a video of a horse at liberty with a human. She encouraged the faculty to dance with their students in this same manner; to see their presentation of the subject matter as the pressure, and to allow time at the end of each class period for reflection, the release that teaches. In a world that is full of information, deadlines and the need to prove and produce, this dance is often interrupted and we lose the ability to self-regulate and set healthy boundaries. Becky believes we need to create margins in our life to pause, reflect and release tension.
There is such a richness in the messages that both Alia and Becky share in this conversation about their work, and we appreciate their openness to be vulnerable and transparent as they each speak their truth. We hope that you will return next week for Part 2, as they reveal more about the incredible powers that horses possess and the transformations that they have experienced themselves and witnessed in the clients that they serve.
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In this episode you’ll hear:
Links & Resources:
NBC News Article, Black horse trainers offer horseback riding as therapy
BBC News Article, The black cowboys of Chicago's South Side