All the research is in: animals are a major source of stress management and relaxation. Being with them can lower our blood pressure, decrease feelings of anxiety and depression and teach us what it means to be loved unconditionally. Here at my diminutive Texas ranch, my clients get to interact with various species, including horses, dogs, cats, goats and chickens; all of which have varying therapeutic qualities. Below is a gallery of the creatures that work here.
My best therapy horse, Moss Rock Wind Dancer, aka Cody at 4 years old. He is a Morab, 1/2 Morgan, half Arabian. He has a way of tuning in to the needs of people and will lower or increase his energy and way of being to match the level of the client I am working with at the time. With both adults and children, he just seems to know what's needed.
Cody was retired in October, 2014 to a young lady with a serious illness that loves and adores him, as he deserves. His contributions as a therapy horse changed the lives of many people and now he and his new partner change each other's lives for the better every day.
Cody & I giving a pleasure ride to a reining horse trainer that was seriously injured when a horse fell on him. This was 'Trainer's' first ride after his accident and was instrumental in his recovery.
This is Tanka, my PTSD Service Dog. He is a Miniature Rat Terrier. Not only does he travel everywhere with me, he also provides support and redirection help to our clients. When he senses a rise in anxiety and arousal, he will jump on your lap, scratch at your chest and lick your neck to bring you in to awareness of what's going on. His presence is very calming and many folks like to have him in their laps when we talk. He even has his own Facebook page! Follow his adventures! https://www.facebook.com/tankatheservicedog
This is Wyndancer's Lakota, a natural-eared Doberman. Not only is he a top notch obedience trial dog, he's also a certified therapy dog with Therapy Dogs International. His job here is to greet everyone, make them feel welcome and comfort and de-stress all who come for stress management therapy and coaching. He often lays on their feet or puts his paw on their arm with his head in their lap. Some clients insist he be present and won't talk without him.
Sadly, Lakota passed away in his sleep in March, 2014, basically from old age.
Cody & I giving a pleasure drive to a cutting horse rider battling with cancer. Sadly, the person died not long after this drive. It was his last ride.
Therapy Chickens, you say? You bet! Watching chickens is much like watching fish in an aquarium...very soothing. This is one of my roosters, Hawkeye. The rooster oversee aboout a dozen hens that free range over the ranch. They keep the pastures clean by scrathcing all the manure and, of course, they provide eggs, which I sell and then buy feed for the rest of the animals. My clients especially delight in watching chicks after a hatching...the circle of life.
This is Circle G Star Struck, a AMHA registered miniature horse. Standing only 34 inches tall, he is a favorite of children of all ages! He has never met a person he doesn't like, and small children delight having a horse in a size that they can relate to. He can carry riders up to 75 lbs. and can take two adults in his cart for a relaxing ride down the road...a stress management technique which is just what the Doctor ordered!
Harmony is the operative word...both here at the ranch and in your life to live with less stress. Like Star Struck and Coots pictured here, overlooking differences and focusing on commonalities is the key to a peaceful co-existance.