Parelli Foundation Grant Inspires Volunteers at ACTT Naturally

“Being subject to this Parelli clinic I was able to take in the whole clinic from the outside and learned what a little consistency and pressure can teach. Not only for the horses but for the human participants as well. I am truly grateful for this unique experience. It has opened my eyes from the perception I have, always working from the ground. This has opened my mind on communication both interpersonal and body language. I cannot Thank Elli enough for her fun and enthusiasm during her visit with us. We hope to have her back real soon!” – Rachel Barkley-ACTT Naturally Volunteer

Veteran Care at Heart of Horse Sense

One veteran who participated is a former Marine who was discharged from active duty in 2013. Attending a program at Heart of Horse Sense was his first attempt at self-care/healing since his coming home.  In his words, “I was able to leave with a new understanding of communication. I keep everything inside as I feel a lot of veterans do. However, with the horse interaction, it showed me that everyone has been through something on some level (including the horses). I discovered the only way through it is, well — through it. The horses as well as the staff gave me the WANT to take that first step in healing and recovery.”

“Peace at Home Project” for Veterans

A Licensed 2* Parelli Professional known as “Nancy Natural” hosted a retreat for Special Operations veterans who are on a working journey. “They are self-starters, self-guided, and self-driven at Waypoint Ranch in Carrollton, Ga., where their motto is “Live, Learn, Work, Ride. Your self-carriage is your choice,” said Nancy Slater. “Stephanie Cirasa runs the Peace at Home Project there using her horses. She wanted to see what I was doing in Lake Wales, Fla., using Parelli Natural Horsemanship as a healing tool.”

Equine-Assisted Counseling for Veterans

After funding for equine-assisted counseling ran dry for veterans at S.T.E.P.S. with Horses in Texas, a $2,500 grant from the Parelli Foundation drew them back in July 2019. Licensed professional counselors (or supervised graduate-level interns) and Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.)-certified equine specialists in mental health and learning have since held 18 sessions for four clients.

A Different Kind of Horseman

  Horses were the furthest thing from my mind when my friend asked me to attend a local “roundup” for kids at a small barn 6 years ago. It was a bright spring day. A gentle breeze cooled us off from the beating Georgia sun. I stood there in my tennis shoes, awkwardly waiting for my turn to get on the horse. Still, to this day, I remember that first ride. How the saddle squeaked under my weight. How looking down on everyone else gave me an excited chill. How, when I looked up and really felt that horse move under me, I felt like I was someone else. Something else. No longer was I entirely me. Something changed—clicked —within me.