Seeking Trust and Connection
“A kind of magic happens when a desperately unhappy child is brought to the country to interact with horses. A change of environment – especially from an urban area – to open, natural surroundings, filled with fresh air and flooded with sunshine, can have an uplifting and calming effect. In time, a troubled teen can begin to let go of a lot of pent-up, negative emotions,” explains Lori Harmon, Executive Director of Equine Alliance Youth Foundation in Paso Robles and the new location in San Miguel. She is describing what she witnesses nearly every time a teen in need of emotional healing interacts with horses.
“Horses and teenagers are seeking the same feelings of trust and connection, and once a child realizes this similarity, he or she is able to form a connection that is uplifting and inspiring. Horses are able to teach teenagers about themselves and their interaction with others around them,” Lori continued.
Equine Assisted Learning
Equine Assisted Learning starts on the ground, unlike Therapeutic Riding programs which utilize the benefits of sitting atop the horse. An Equine Assisted Learning coach encourages “students” to study the non-verbal, interactive, body language between a horse and human. The coach then challenges the student to consider how his or her own behaviors impact the human interactions encountered in life. In a few short sessions progress is made through improving interpersonal interactions, unlocking creativity and thus helping the student begin the walk down the emotional road to recovery.
Lori puts into words the results she has seen using Equine Assisted Learning,
“Horses do not respond to bullying, yelling, or aggression, and this forces teens to find other ways of communication. Because horses are non-judgmental, do not have an agenda, and are always honest, it is much easier for teenagers to let down their guard and recognize their own dysfunctional behavior. When teenagers work with horses, they are able to gain insight into their emotions and behavior and have a non-threatening opportunity to immediately find a more productive, positive way of interacting.”
Equine Alliance Youth Foundation Expands
Also this year, Equine Alliance Youth Foundation has expanded their reach to meet the needs of teens living in Foster Care in Kern County. So they are now serving teens in Paso Robles, San Miguel as well as Kern County.
All of this “magic” takes funding, and since its inception, the Equine Alliance Youth Foundation has relied on private funding. The Equine Alliance Youth Foundation is a registered 501 (c) (3) tax deductible charitable foundation that is operated by a volunteer Board of Directors. Services are provided free of charge.
Lori leaves us with a final plea for a serious need in terms of continuing this amazing work, “The Equine Alliance Youth Foundation is seeking donations to provide young adults ages 18-23 who are aging out of the foster care, homeless or at-risk of homelessness with supportive transitional housing. Each young adult will participate in a personalized program of Life Skills services with the goal of preparing them for independent permanent housing, education, employment and careers. Unlike other transitional housing programs, EAYF residents will be supported and encouraged by adult mentors and licensed therapists to become completely self sufficient and avoid the need for public assistance.
Your tax deductible donation will allow us to maintain our continuum of services free of charge, where youth participants develop in healthy ways: physically, cognitively, academically, emotionally and socially while gaining the tools to achieving their full potential as adults and becoming our next generation of leaders, hard workers, engaged citizens and effective parents.
Without your generosity this would not be possible. On behalf of all the kids and horses at Equine Alliance Youth Foundation, we thank you!”
There is good work being done every day across our incredible Central Coast, and the folks at Equine Alliance Youth Foundation are certainly proving this. Using horses to pave a way for damaged souls and to prepare at risk youth for functional, productive and emotionally stable lives is something that most of us can get behind. To show your support and offer a donation, please contact Lori Harmon.
Contact Information for Equine Alliance Youth Foundation Donations:
Equine Alliance Youth Foundation
1609 Linden Box L
Pine Mountain Club, CA 93222