It is hard to believe 5 years have gone by! The horses have impacted the lives of so many people in that time! From Wounded Warriors Battalion at Camp Pendelton, & their families, to kids with autism,  teenagers at risk in the foster care system, to those recovering from drug addictions, eating disorders and grief. They've empowered women old and young, instilled self esteem and above all, loved unconditionally, without judgment, and shown us what it is to live in the moment!

I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to have worked with all of our clients, and to bear witness to the remarkable epiphanies, tears, transformation, and joy! I've also been blessed to have met many people who have become such an important part of my life!

The longer I observe horses, and the more ways in which I experience their wisdom, the more amazed I am to see not only how much they have to share with people, but their complete willingness to do so!

I will write soon about our plans for the coming yea but first. I wanted to share this important milestone and give thanks.

Oh my gosh! I never seem to have time to keep this up! I have lots of ideas that I'd like to share and discuss, but they never seem to make it to the blog!! I hope to do better in 2013!!

Its been an a very challenging year, with a lot of sadness, eventual healing (thanks to the horses!), transition, and later joy. I lost my mom in January, followed the next month by my beloved mare Toledana. We moved from our ranch in San Diego at the end of Feb. and finally arrived in our new home in Santa Cruz in August. We're still getting settled in but are back at work and looking forward to programs for next year. 

Its long been my dream to live in Santa Cruz specifically and I'm thrilled to be here! Its everything I imagined, and so much more! The weather is much cooler (YAY!!), we're near the ocean and go there as often as possible. Even driving around, its right there. It's awesome
 being so close! The beauty (& smell!!!) of the redwoods in the mountains where we live is something I appreciate every day! 

The people in the area are warm, friendly, kind and open. I'd visited a lot but you can't truly know what its like to live somewhere, until you do!  I think the horses and other animals are equally happy. Especially not having to suffer through the brutal summer heat!

I hope you are all well and can embrace what I find to be a very reflective time of year. As we go inside, we can do so in many aspects of our lives.  The longer days allow us more time to slow down and nurture our spirits! 

Wishing you the joy of the warmth of home and loved ones, the fire light reflecting on their faces, and in all our hearts, and the cool crisp air with all its brilliant possibility!
Horses are masters of non verbal communication! They can help teach us what we're saying with our body language, which we know through research is aprx 90% of how we communicate! 90%!! Our words make up less than 10%, making the skill of non verbal communication essential to fully understand others, and to be understood.
This is an article I shared on our Facebook page a while back & I wanted to share here. I think anyone interested in autism will want to check this out:
This past weekend I read the book 'Reality Therapy' by William Glasser, M.D., a psychiatrist. The book was written in the 60's. I imagine it was quite controversial at the time, and still is today. It posits that essentially, there is no such thing as mental illness.That all (so called) mental illness is a lack of responsibility (this sounds harsher than is explained in the book) and that with proper guidance, through a care provider who is truly connected to the patient, issues can be overcome and the patient can assume their place in family & society, leading meaningful lives.

While I don't agree with the book in its entirety, I did find it very intriguing and worth learning more about. I think the implications for preventative care, of say youth, & at risk youth, for example, could be quite profound.

It is possible that it could be useful for other populations as well, once stabilized, including PTSD.

I look forward to reading the latest versions of this work and will report back. If anyone is familiar with it already, and would like to share, I would be very interested to know what your experience has been!

Here is a link to Dr. Glasser's website and the Choice Theory page:
The (COSC) Conference (which was held last week in San Diego) was very informative again this year! It was great to have Dr. Sheldon Kramer there with me. And, it was very rewarding to have a lot of people we talked to say they knew of our program!
For anyone interested in PTSD/TBI, mental health & the military, here is a link to the presentations slides for the break out sessions:
Its become clear to me that I don't have time to blog! So, I'd like to plan to give brief updates of what's going on & then to post articles of interest. There is so much amazing information out there to share, this is a great forum in which to do it!
We're very excited that Dr. Sheldon Kramer has joined our team! Sheldon's guidance will allow us to do research on our methods so that we can quantify the results we've seen. Check out his bio to learn more about him. 
It has taken a while to make this happen but we now have support from the military for an 8 week pilot study on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. If the results of the pilot are favorable, it will be followed by a full, long term study of the efficacy of Equine Assisted Psychotherapy on PTSD. Things are falling into place for the pilot & we hope that it will be completed by the middle of 2012.
We're so happy to be adding the STEPP stables on base at Camp Pendleton to the locations we work at! Being on base will enable us to better serve the military community. The facilities are beautiful, with a lot of privacy and quiet for sessions!
This week, Sheldon & I will be going to the Combat Operational Stress Control Conference given by the Navy in San Diego. Last year was a huge learning experience and I look forward to more!
I hope everyone is enjoying this wonderful time of year, my favorite!
Happy Spring! ~Windy
Somehow, this got sent to drafts and never posted.....

Last May, I attended the Navy's Combat Operational Stress confernece in San Diego. It was an amazing experience being thrust into the midst of military culture for three days! They have acronyms for everything, which felt like being in another land with a strange language!

The focus of the conference was to find solutions and support for service men and women dealing with mental health issues such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury, and their families. There was a huge emphasis on the need to destigmitize mental health issues and encourage those suffering to seek and get help. We heard from people who had been in in-treatment programs for PSTD and who were able to rejoin thier units after completion of treatment.

What was most striking for me was the recognition of "moral injury" and ackowledgement from the military leaders who spoke that what we are asking of our service people in foreign lands has the potential for deep emotional and spiritual consequences which must be addressed for the individual, their families, the health of the military, and for society as a whole.

The horses are so helpful in their ability to "just be" with the person and their pain, and to genly mirror behaviors that can then be looked at in a way that is non threatening.

We are now in our second year of Horses for Warriors and the feedback we've gotten shows us we're on the right track. We've gained a lot of experience,  and we've learned from our participants what works for them, and what is important for them to address to best help them as they reintegrate into their families and communities.

I would like to express my appreciation for the participants willingness to share their lives with us a few hours each week and to co-create this program with us.

Conference presentation archives can be found here:
                  "In war, there are no unwounded soldiers." -Jose Narosky 

Next week will be the last Horses for Heroes for this session. It has been a remarkable journey for both staff and participants. This session has been with female veterans. What has been striking is their willingness to share what they've been through and experienced, and thier ability to address their PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) head on.  Also, interesting has been learning about the unique prespectives of women in the service, specifically, the pressure they put on themselves "to measure up/cowboy up/tough it out", etc.  I hadn't really thought about it before!  It has definately been a theme throughout this session and has provided our staff with an opportunity to address these special needs. 
We are grateful to all of the participants whose lives intersect ours and the gifts they leave with us.
Respectfully, Windy