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Learning and Growing With Horses

“Hudson Valley Horse- Play in Kerhonkson is the area’s only equine assisted learning and psychotherapy center providing on-the-ground interactions with horses,” shares founder Cori Nichols. They work with school-aged children, teens, adults and families and blended families as well as groups, clubs, teams and organizations. Absolutely no horse experience is required. There is no riding.

Life and social skills workshops and sessions with horses are structured to address empathy, self-regulation, healthy boundaries, assertiveness, self-confidence, responsibility, sensitivity, listening and communication, mindfulness and creative problem-solving. Equine interactive therapy is beneficial for trauma, PTSD, drug and alcohol prevention, addictions treatment, grief counseling and more.

“Experiential learning with horses works with the horse’s energy and intention. Their responses to our behavior are authentic, immediate and non-judgmental. Structured activities can explore wellness in the areas of spiritual, social, emotional, physical, occupational and intellectual capacities. As an example, a client working on empathy and communication skills might be asked to move a miniature pony from one end of the arena to the other – without causing it to run and without touching it” explains Nichols. “Afterwards we discuss what happened. Were they successful? What did the pony do? Why? What does that tell us? We can then further explore how we know if people don’t understand our requests and what we can do differently in our interactions with others.”

Typically, equine experiential work is a brief or adjunct therapy because it is so powerful. "We get so much information from a horse in such a short amount of time. The lessons clients learn here are both memorable and transferable."

The HorsePlay team includes experienced facilitators, educators, creative arts therapists, mental health counselors, play therapists, autism spectrum specialists and, of course, their beloved herd of ponies and horses. Demonstrations for mental health and human service professionals are held regularly.

Location: 98 Sherman Rd, Kerhonkson. Farm visits offered daily by appointment. Services are offered year-round. HVHorsePlay can travel off-site to locations and field trips are gladly coordinated. HorsePlay is Eagala certified, accepts some insurances and offers a sliding scale. For more information, visit HudsonValleyHorsePlay.com or contact 616-3608.

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