Wolverton’s Hoof Beats For Healing mends through equine therapy

WOLVERTON, Minn. – Animal therapy is a popular alternative to traditional therapy.

One farm in Minnesota is taking their equine assisted therapy program to new heights.

The horse can be known as The Great Equalizer, they treat us how we treat them. Ricigliano Farms believes this makes them great therapy animals.

The concept of Equine Assisted Therapy isn’t new, but the Ricigliano family has a different approach. It’s one that’s proven so successful; they had to start a non–profit: Hoof Beats for Healing.

“We’ve got the equine specialist who is reading what the horse is doing and giving feedback on the client as well. The horse is telling the therapist what’s going on,” Founder of Hoof Beats For Healing Lori Ricigliano said.

“I had a young man in the teenage age who really struggles with identity and boundaries, and he is working with one of our rescue horses that also struggle with boundaries. The way that they connect and the fact that she allows him to reach his hand up and pet her when other people she’ll shy away from, there’s something there that’s therapeutic as well,” Therapist Ashley Thompson explained.

These horses are mirrors for their clients, reflecting back whatever problems they may be dealing with to their therapists.

Aspen is not only a mirror for her clients, but is on the receiving end of some therapy herself. She was a rescue horse for the program. When they bought her and her colt Artie, she was abused and underfed. She was so skinny a client suffering from anorexia touched her and instantly broke down.

Aspen is seeing better days now, and serves as part of the programs therapeutic riding program. She’s learning to trust humans again, and bond with them.

“It’s amazing, from where she was from being starved and everything like that, and knowing that she’s okay now and that we can ride her. It’s amazing on how far she’s come,” Student Worker Jessica Miller said.

The cost to clients can sometimes be expensive, especially if their insurance doesn’t cover it. The group wants to make sure that anybody that wants horse therapy can get it, and so the non–profit was formed, and fundraising is in full swing.

“What we see is working and we want to make sure people know that that’s an option in our community,” Thompson said.

Hoof Beats for Healing may not have invented Equine Assisted Therapy, but their bold new approach is working wonders for their community.

The group has a Spaghetti Dinner & Dance Benefit Saturday November 23rd at 4 PM at the Old Rothsay School House.



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