Quick Home Search

EquiGrace – Mountain Area Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies

“The magic that happens between the horse and equestrian is just that, magic. Our job is simply to allow that to happen in a safe and nurturing environment.” Cindi Winner, EquiGrace, Inc. Founder.

Horse people joke that their horse is their therapist, their therapist lives in a barn, or they pay their therapist in hay and grain.  Whether we realize it or not, there is real truth in those statements supported by documented studies that show the infinite benefits that humans receive by being around horses.

Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies (EAAT), are used to treat patients challenged with everything from cerebral palsy and autism, to drug and alcohol dependency and post-traumatic stress syndrome.  The benefits range from learning non-verbal communication, relaxation, mental awareness, physical therapy through the movement and rhythm of horses to leadership training and team building.  Studies show that people working with horses experience decreased blood pressure, lower stress levels and reduced feelings of tension, anxiety and anger. In addition, studies show you gain feelings of self-esteem, empowerment, patience and trust.

EquiGrace, Inc, is a relatively new Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies facility in our area.  Not far from the town of Bailey, EquiGrace is working to get the word out to the special needs community as well as those that would benefit from their Hero’s Program for veterans, police officers, firefighters and emergency personnel, that they have openings for new students and clients.Cindi, Annie and Mack

Twenty-five-year-old Mack Port of Grant, Colorado is a current student at EquiGrace who started Hippotherapy as a child.  Hippotherapy is defined as the use of horseback riding as a therapeutic or rehabilitative treatment, especially as a means of improving coordination, balance, and strength.  His mom Sandee could see the benefits that Mack received from Hippotherapy to help with his Cerebral Palsy, but unfortunately the drive to the closest facility in Boulder took away from the benefits.

Originally from Philadelphia and South Jersey, EquiGrace’s Founder Cindi Winner, spent the majority of her life doing horse related activities, including showing in English and Western disciplines as well as driving carriages.  While horses are a significant part of her life, Cindi realized her first love was teaching.  She combined horses and teaching in 2003 when she became a PATH International Certified Instructor (pathintl.org).  In 2004 she founded a NARHA center in New Jersey called GRACE Therapeutic Riding Center and discovered the amazing gifts that horses can give to their students.  After moving to Colorado, Cindi started teaching EAAT at a facility in Salida.

Mack and his family first met Cindi when she was an aid for Mack in High School.  Mack started EAAT with Cindi in Salida and now have a much shorter drive since Cindi moved to Whispering Pines Ranch near the town of Bailey.  Sandee was thrilled to be able to start bringing Mack to Equine Assisted Activities and Therapy again.  Being with the horses is the highlight of his week, plus they have found a  close-knit community to be a part of.

Mack is currently working with Hawk, a Quarter Horse gelding in his mid-20’s.  Mack grooms Hawk as well as guides him from his wheelchair through a continually engaging course in the arena.  His goal for this year is to be able to get back to riding by the fall.  Mack’s family is donating the ramp that is needed to facilitate getting the wheelchair into the correct position for Mack to get in the saddle.

Following Mack’s work with Hawk, he is physically loose and mentally happy.  For riding, Mack will start working with Annie, a Percheron cross in her late teens who both rides and drives.

Sandee has learned that Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies takes a special teacher to understand the horses, be a gifted teacher and tie all of that into a fun, engaging and safe environment.  She states that there is a significant “symbiotic relationship between Cindi and her horse, and Cindi and her client.”

Could you or someone you know benefit physically and/or mentally from Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies?  Visit EquiGrace.com to read more about their programs as well as biographies on the horses and humans.  Learn about opportunities to volunteer, donate or even buy any of the horse’s dinner!

Call 303-838-7122 or email [email protected] to learn more.  EquiGrace, Inc. is located at 6936 County Road 68 in Bailey, Colorado.  Mailing address:  PO Box 268, Shawnee, CO  80475.  Heather McWilliams © 2017

I Saw A Child by John Anthony Davies

I saw a child, who couldn’t walk, sit on a horse, laugh and talk.
Then ride it through a field of daisies and yet he could not walk unaided.
I saw a child, no legs below, sit on a horse and make it go.
Through woods of green and places he had never been; to sit and stare, except from a chair.
I saw a child who could only crawl mount a horse and sit up tall.
Put it through degrees of paces and laugh at the wonder in our faces.
I saw a child born into strife, take up and hold the reins of life.
And that same child was heard to say,
Thank you God for showing me the way… 

The Souls A Barn Builds by Kristin Carpenter

I think there is something magical about the souls that the barn builds. While there is magic made in the saddle, and horses have dramatically altered each of us for the better over time, I like to think that just being in the barn is enough to have a positive impact on anyone.

The barn teaches all the major lessons of life within its four walls and pasture fences. It doesn’t take into account age, gender, race, education or family history. It teaches with the severity and grace of life itself.

I remember learning about hard work. Two hundred bales of hay don’t unload themselves, and the incoming rain doesn’t care that your back hurts, you haven’t eaten in 10 hours, and your hands are bleeding from blisters. If you don’t finish, you lose the hay, and you can’t afford more. That’s hard work.

I remember learning not only a respect for what real manual labor is, but also a compassion for those who perform it. The workers in the bigger barns aren’t nameless faces; they are men and women with hopes, dreams, opportunities and dead ends like the rest of us. Their backs hurt by the 50th bale, too, but they keep going. Even though I no longer do the hard labor of big barns, I will never lose the respect and compassion for those that do, and never miss an opportunity to thank them and offer a helping hand.

I remember learning the value of a dollar. My dad gave me $500 for my first horse as a Christmas/birthday present when I was 9. I bought a 9-year-old unbroken Arabian gelding, still in a field with his mother. And that was it—we didn’t have anything left over for a saddle, so I rode without one for almost a year or borrowed them graciously from friends.

I fell off 78 times in the first year. Yes, I still have my diary, and I counted. I worked off board and lessons, and saved and begged to go to an event. When I got there, I jumped out of the dressage arena and eliminated myself—my hopes and dreams and mouths full of dirt culminating in disappointed parents and a lot of money lost. My dad then told me to get a job, so I did. I designed websites for money for shows during middle school, and went halfway across the country during the summer of high school to find a working student job with a stipend. While my income as an adult is vastly different, I don’t forget the feeling of never buying anything and feeling complete, because just having the horse was enough. Just having the horse was everything.

The barn taught me perspective. When it doesn’t rain, and the pastures don’t hold up, and you can’t afford more hay, it’ll be OK. The rain will come next year, and somehow this year you will make it. It might mean a lot of hard decisions and sacrifices, but that’s life.

The barn makes for a different childhood experience. When all the other teenagers are out partying on a Saturday night, you will be lying in the bed of a truck staring at the sky. You’ll get to see stars how they are meant to be seen—by the thousands—not just the few that shine through the light pollution of the cities. You will learn peace with the silence of the outdoors, and a kind of meditation that comes from hours of manual labor with nothing but wind and animals’ breath as music.

I remember learning that life isn’t fair. I paid attention to every hair on my first horse, but I remember sitting and crying in a wash rack as my horse colicked. I stared in horror as the oil and charcoal we pumped into him spilled onto the ground, and I grappled with the fairness of life and death. When, 10 years later, I sat next to my father as he was on life support, and I decided it was best to let go and take him off the machines, I didn’t need to struggle with the existential questions of fairness. The barn had already taught me: Life isn’t fair, and neither is death.

The barn has taught me about unconditional love. The barn doesn’t care what you drove to get there, or what you are going home to. It is a haven for those who give it their all, and it will take everything you have to give. It will take your immaturity and give you discipline. It will take your excuses and give you failure. It will take your dreams and give you opportunity. But it makes no promises, picks no favorites, and spares no hardships.

The barn taught me passion. Very few people get to experience passion at its core, in the way that it is meant to be felt. Not the passion of winning—that is superficial and relative. But rather the passion that you feel when you have nothing left but your love of something. The passion that is there when exhaustion steals your strength and frustration takes your hope. When all you are left with is this very moment, and yet you are at peace and fulfilled. That is passion in its truest form, and that is what fuels us in barns, and what sneaks into the souls of children and never lets go. That passion drives the thousands of adult amateurs to work 60-hour weeks and still ride, and the professionals to lose in grand fashion but show up the next day at 5 a.m.

It’s easy to get wrapped up in the side of life fueled by possessions and titles and bank account balances. It’s easy to focus on what you don’t have and who you aren’t. But the barn will teach you better. You have what you have, and it has to be enough, so make do.

The barn will build your soul, and it will give you all the gifts you need to be a good, gracious person. It is up to us to keep these things when we pass through the gate. If you related to any part of this blog, you are lucky. Many go through life never really feeling passion; they only have material possessions to try to satisfy their souls. But to the souls the barn built, life is about sitting in a warm rain on a summer day and laughing with your friends. It is about lying on the back of your horse at midnight, in a field, and staring at the stars.

I love this piece and wanted to share it.  Kristin Carpenter owns Linder Educational Coaching in Arlignton, Virginia that works mainly with teenage boys with behavioral issues.  She grew up in rural Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  There is so much truth here and the effect that hard work and animals have on the soul is immeasurable.