According to the American Humane Association, animal-assisted therapy has proven beneficial for those seeking an alternative means of treatment for emotional or mental health.
At KTR Farms in Adairsville, owner Keri Davidson has spent most of her life bonding with the horses she boards, trains and grooms.
Since buying the farm at age 21, she has seen firsthand the benefits of using horses as treatment for a wide range of illnesses and disorders.
Davidson founded Greener Ways, Inc. to offer equine-assisted therapy and activities to at-risk youth and veterans suffering from psychological/ emotional trauma, including post traumatic stress disorder.
“I’ve always believed horses have proven their benefits,” Davidson said.
She approached Jessica Nguyen, who was on staff and had recently earned a master’s degree in family and marriage therapy from Liberty University, about starting the program.
“It just worked out that Jessica has the background and we can now offer these services,” Davidson said.
All sessions are conducted by certified Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH) International instructors whose goal is to help clients rebuild trust, care, responsibility, and confidence within themselves using the deep bond and understanding a horse offers.
Using the bond that can be built between a client and horse, PATH certified instructors work to help clients build trust, confidence and responsibility while also learning that there are people and horses who care about them.
Each individual will have a treatment plan developed for them to help meet their specific needs, which includes caring for and riding the same horse throughout their time at Greener Ways, Inc.
The program is best suited for children at least six years of age and Nguyen said sessions provide a way to teach lessons uniquely different from traditional therapy.
“It’s non-conventional therapy that teaches social skills and helps kids find ways to interact and respond to others,” Nguyen said. “It’s a great alternative for at-risk youth and veterans.”
Nguyen said the program is just starting and she is interested in connecting with those interested in donating to the nonprofit.
“Hopefully we’ll be able to find enough funding to help kids come to therapy because the program has so many benefits,” Nguyen said.