Winston Churchhill once famously said, “There’s something about the outside of the horse that’s good for the inside of a man.” A Boones Mill nonprofit, Unbridled Change, is using that bit of wisdom to offer equine-assisted mental health services for children, teens, and adults that need support overcoming obstacles in their life such as trauma, anger management, parenting and bullying.
Horses are a great mirror that reflect back a client’s behaviors, the organization says, allowing for awareness and eventually control and change.
Founder and Executive Director Michelle Holling-Brooks is the only Certified Eagala Advanced Equine Specialist in Virginia and one of only 14 in the country. EAP is a collaborative effort between a licensed therapist and a horse professional working with the clients and horses to address treatment goals. Participants learn about themselves and others by participating in activities with the horses and then talking about feelings, behaviors and patterns.
Unbridled Change offers several different programs to their clients:
- A ‘Bit’ of Support – Military Services program works with military personnel, veterans, spouses, and their families to help with transitions, stress relief and mindfulness skills, coping skills, parenting skills, mental health therapy for PTSD & MST and also recreational therapy.
- Take Back the Reins is an equine-assisted psychotherapy program that is designed for children, teens, and adults who were victims or witnesses of abuse or neglect with the aim of breaking the cycle of abuse.
- Hoof-prints of a Healthy Herd is an equine assisted psychotherapy program that is designed for parenting and family reunification. The program works with both the children and the parents to help address the core concepts of a healthy family unit: healthy boundary setting and acceptance, respect, communication and healthy relationship skills.
- Wranglers is designed for children, teens, and adults who struggling with anger management issues.
- “Blazing the Trail of Character” combines hands-on activities with horses and six character development concepts: Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring and Citizenship. The program is available to area youth groups and schools.
- Riders Up! is designed for children, teens, and adults who are working on executive functioning skills, fine tuning self-regulation skills, and self-esteem.
Find a video of Unbridled Change at http://vimeo.com/109596834.
Directions to the farm from Roanoke Airport:
Take I-581 South toward Downtown Roanoke. I-581 will turn into route 220 South toward Rocky Mount, VA . (581 will merge from a highway to route 220 there will be a Lowes, HomeDepot, Walmart and other box stores when it first merges down). Stay on 220 for about 10 miles – cross the county line into Franklin Co and the town of Boones Mill. Just after the light turn an immediate left over the bridge onto Boones Mill Road (at Jack Garst Agency or Southern States). At the stop sign turn right to stay on to Boones Mill Road. Go 2 miles and turn right onto White Oak Road. Go about 1 mile and turn right into the Unbridled Change’s parking lot at the indoor arena site.