Equine encounters work wonders at Windrush Farm.
“Our horses do the magic,and we assist them,” says Amanda Hogan, executive director of Windrush Farm. The special relationship that exists between horse and rider is the heart of the matter at this 35-acre working horse farm. Located on the North Andover/Boxford town line, Windrush provides equine-assisted activities and therapies to people with disabilities.Clients run the gamut in age from 2 to 86 and deal with a variety of challenges, including neurological disorders, learning and mental health issues, physical disabilities such as cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, head injury, spinal cord injury, and visual or hearing impairment. Some clients want to build social skills and self-confidence, while others aim to improve their upper body strength, muscle tone, balance, or range of motion. That’s where good old-fashioned horse sense comes into play.Horses are the ultimate teachers, Hogan explains. “These large, wonderful animals are so clear in their responses. They do not judge. They respond very clearly to stimulus, both physical and emotional. Our instructors and volunteers are the facilitators of the work that the horses do,” she says.For example, an adult client with PTSD was terrified to ride his horse in the outdoor ring near the woods, fearing he would be an easy target for a sniper’s bullet.
“Fortunately, he developed such a strong relationship with the horse, he felt that the horse would keep him safe,” Hogan says. “He made it through the class without losing control or jumping off.” This was huge step, one that will help him cope with other threatening situations on a daily basis, she says. windrushfarm.org