Rainhorse Founder and Executive Director, Maria Eastman, has always had a passion for horses. She has been around horses all her life and used to show, train and rehabilitate former racehorses.
When seeking a career in the equine industry, therapeutic work held great appeal for Maria. As an Advanced Certified Instructor and Equine Mental Health and Learning Specialist, Maria found her passion in helping horses and people.
“Therapeutic work appealed to me because I know horses are really good for people,” she shares.
Rainhorse’s mission is to provide horse-assisted activities and therapies and to bring the remarkable healing aid of horses to people of all walks of life. Rainhorse offers horse-assisted counseling and learning.
In 2008, Rainhorse focused on a few weekend workshops and summer camps for children, she notes. Then, for about five years, Rainhorse worked with the Wyoming Boys’ School in Worland.
After a short hiatus, Rainhorse will return to the Wyoming Boys’ School to work with children.
During a session, Maria and her team, along with therapists and counselors from the facility, engage in several learning and counseling activities with the children.
“We usually work with a group of four young people at a time,” she says. “We bring in four horses at a time because a lot of the activities we do and the therapy the counselors want to work on is about communication, building relationships, working with other people and building self-confidence – everything works great if each participant can somehow bond with their own special horse.
Horse therapy plays an important role for people who are going through a tough time or who may be suffering from mental illness, and horses really help because they motivate people, she says.
“Young people who may be reluctant to give advice often really want to build a relationship with the horse,” she says.
In another Rainhorse program, Ponies and Poetry, Maria takes two miniature ponies to a local nursing home for dementia care.
“We have different activities and we also write stories and poems together,” explains Maria. “Ponies are a good thing for them to write about because, for the most part, everyone in Wyoming has either had a horse or been around a horse.”
Maria gives residents things to think about or remember, because often people with dementia can remember things from a long time ago, she explains. They then give her sentences or words and she composes poems with their help, adds Maria.
Other Rainhorse programs include providing horse-assisted therapy for a short-term crisis intervention program run by Cloud Peak Counseling, workshops for veterans, a program for women of various socio-economic groups and a therapeutic workshop for cancer survivors, caregivers and families.
The program uses seven horses and ponies for their sessions named Coco, Finnegan, Gabriella, Gandalf, Daylight, Rosie and Noche. Maria shares many of the horses she uses are rescue horses, including three off-road Thoroughbreds.
“These horses are rescue or second career horses,” she says. “Some of them came from improper care and we retrained and rehabilitated them, and then they work with people in our program who also had issues.”
“Healing goes both ways,” she adds. “Some of our horses don’t come from a difficult background, but most of them do.”
The cost for Rainhorse to keep a horse healthy and happy is between $250 and $300 per month.
Sponsorship care for Rainhorses includes animal feed – hay, grain, and pasture; supplements; farrier work; routine veterinary care such as vaccinations; and work, grooming and exercise.
Each horse requires a different level of care, but sponsors can choose the level of sponsorship that best suits their budget. Rainhorse has been a nonprofit since 2015 and relies on grants and donations to fund organizations and individuals.
“Another part of our mission is to make this equine-assisted work affordable and available to people in Wyoming who may not be able to afford to receive equine-assisted services,” she says. “It can get expensive, and one of our goals is to make it accessible to everyone.”
and healing horses
When asked what Maria’s favorite part of her job is, she said, “Seeing our participants open up, feel better or take on their challenges with a little more confidence is really rewarding – all of horse.”
Maria is also a Certified Masterson Method Practitioner. The method is a form of equine bodywork based on the horse’s neurological responses, helping it relax and improving range of motion and performance, she explains.
“It has a big effect on horses that have had a traumatic experience or issues,” she notes. “We use this Masterson technique a lot with our horses when we rehabilitate them.”
“Horses and humans are both creatures that live in communities, and we are both very sensitive to the emotional states of others in our community,” she concludes. “Although we humans often lose some of that sensitivity. At Rainhorse, customers can work to regain some of that lost connection. »
For more information, visit rainhorse.org.
Brittany Gunn is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send your comments on this article to email@example.com.