What do you do when you or someone you love needs to talk to someone, needs therapy, but humans aren’t exactly the beings you want to trust?
Well, you might try horses. In Indian Valley, A Grazing Grace Horse Rescue and Equine Therapy is expanding its offerings. Owner Tina Botts-Mannies and Aly Kinney of Quincy have teamed up to provide the opportunity for those in need to try a different kind of therapy — equine therapy.
Kinney, of Rethink Industries, is a certified mental health professional and a certified equine specialist using the EAGALA model of equine therapy. The premise of this model is to give clients an experience where they can discover and learn about themselves and the horse through a relationship experience with a horse.
Kinney is “a firm believer that no matter what rough roads and alleyways life may lead us down, there is always a path towards healing. Through the path of healing, we are led to a place where we can thrive,” according to A Grazing Grace’s website.
Botts-Mannies is excited about their partnership. There was only so much she could do alone. Offering equine therapy at A Grazing Grace is the realization of a dream.
According to the EAGALA website, the model is effective because the sessions aren’t about riding or horsemanship, but instead about “work that happens on the ground.” Clients do not need to have had experience with horses prior to their sessions — just a willingness to have an experience. Clients are face to face with horses and therefore on “equal footing.”
Botts-Mannies and Kinney’s faces beam with excitement when they talk about how 2017 went for them. Lisa Kelly of Quincy introduced them to each other and thought they’d be a good fit — the horse rescuer and the mental health professional. The two women are full of ideas and excited about what the new year might bring. They’ve already seen great experiences happen at A Grazing Grace and have seen the potential for more.
“People really relate to rescue horses. They see themselves and their own issues in the horses,” said Botts-Mannies.
They look at each other and instantly remember one kid in the program from the past year. A 12-year-old who could connect with no other human being it seemed, but he connected with a horse — a horse that didn’t seem to ever connect with any other horse or human. A perfect match.
“Horses mirror human energy; they have an unfiltered response. Horses don’t care the way humans do about things,” said Botts-Mannies. Kinney sees this as an opportunity to treat substance abuse issues and other issues where a client might not feel accepted.
The 50-minute therapy sessions based on the EAGALA method work well, according to Kinney, for those needing behavior modifications.
“Horses sense things. You can’t fake it with a horse,” Botts-Mannies said. Whereas a client might try and lie about his or her feelings to a fellow human — it’s nearly impossible with a horse.
They’ve had clients who felt they couldn’t tell the secrets they’ve held for decades finally be able to tell them to a horse. The clients come away relieved.
The rescue horses need jobs — playing therapist to at-risk youth gives them that job. At the same time, a ranch with 30-plus horses means those horses need a lot of tender loving care. That’s where some of the experiential therapy comes in. There’s always a horse that needs brushing, for example.
Kinney says she’s there to facilitate and make sure everyone is safe. However, the experiences in the sessions are very much client-led.
They are open to clients outside of Plumas County and are looking for ways to cover expenses both for themselves and potential clients. There’s the cost of getting people out there, housing, as well as the cost of maintaining a horse rescue in the first place.
The women also plan on involving veterans in their equine therapy program and are beginning to lay the groundwork for some collaboration with veteran’s groups.
There’s always something that needs repair or needs doing at A Grazing Grace. Botts-Mannies looks forward to a day when those needs are all met.
Kinney would like to see a retreat center built near Quincy that focuses on treatment with excursions out to A Grazing Grace for sessions with horses.
The winter of 2017 was particularly hard on the ranch — blowing down fences and half a barn for example. Botts-Mannies still dreams of a heated barn, more fencing and other features.
Some clients are already giving back to the A Grazing Grace and working off their experiences by helping to do maintenance around the facility and helping with the horses. Those needing to do community services hours have also worked there.
A Grazing Grace could always use more grants and more donations for the upkeep of the horses.
A Grazing Grace is located at 1193 North Arm Road in Greenville. Rethink Industries can be reached at (916) 547-9961; A Grazing Grace can be reached at 284-1921.