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Connecticut based equine therapy program expands into Maine

Bright Strides is teaming up with Whispering Woods Stables
Bright Strides is teaming up with Whispering Woods Stables(wabi)
Published: Mar. 4, 2021 at 5:59 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Maine (WABI) - Horses are remarkably versatile animals, used for farm work, transportation, and therapy.

We spoke with an equine therapist from Connecticut who is expanding her programs to Maine.

”People say, ‘oh you’re an equine therapist.’ I say, well they’re the therapists, I’m just the conduit.’”

Danielle Roberts has been riding horses since she was a child, now she’s been a PATH International certified equine specialist in mental health.

”The universe just propelled me into the world of equine therapy. I co-founded Bright Strides with my partner Vanesa Gottlieb. She and I met when we were eight and nine, riding horses.”

In October she moved to Maine from Connecticut to expand the Bright Strides equine therapy programs. Their new home base is Grateful Pony Art and Equestrian Center in Freedom, but they’ll soon have programming in Augusta at Whispering Woods Stables.

”Five right now, I’ll have six, I have another one coming.” Owner Teresa Elvin counts the horses at Whispering Woods. “Between my mom and I, we have seven mini horses.”

She started riding in 2007 and said horses changed her life for the better. After purchasing the stables, she felt like she wanted to do more than just board horses there.

”All that time I thought that I wanted to offer some kind of horse therapy.”

Teresa hopes to expand the limited programming she’s been able to offer by partnering with Bright Strides.

”I have two Eagala certified, that’s another form of unmounted therapy, professionals on site. They’ve been doing it on a very small scale since 2013.”

Danielle says partnering with other groups is part of the mission for Bright Strides.

”Branch out our program and reach out to different organizations so we can help people who are experiencing trauma within their families.”

Danielle focuses on art-based equine therapy while Bright Strides project manager Jenn Aronson will be leading a program aimed at veterans. Aronson says working with horses is a great way to relieve tension.

”The stress, you can feel it come out of you, into the horse, and then the horse takes a sigh, and then the stress goes away, and it’s amazing.”

The art will be inspired by nature, using natural materials.

“We’re starting to do horsehair pottery here which I’m really excited about.” says Roberts.

Most of the programming will start in June, but they hope to gauge interest sooner, and say anyone can benefit.

“Everyone has experienced some kind of trauma, loss, difficulty.” says Roberts. “You’re taking care of them, they’re taking care of you.”

She hopes to further expand the program in the future with plans for a group home in Belfast for those with special needs. She says a similar program in Connecticut yielded great results.

”They gain such confidence through the work with the horses and expression with art. The participants can then transition into the community for vocational positions.”

For more information you can visit The Grateful Pony Horse Farm or Whispering Woods Stables on Facebook.

You can also visit BrightStrides.org or whisperingwoodsstables.com

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