Born 2 Be Therapeutic Equestrian Center Succeeds One Hoofbeat at a Time
by Joan Reinbott
In a recap and thank-you note about using a Parelli Foundation grant, one recipient shared a video that epitomizes her program. Set to a horse lover’s song, “When I Ride” by Tania Kernaghan, the video inspires viewers with messages like One hoofbeat at a time through the power of the horse and Success is not about being better than someone else. It is about being better than you used to be.
To likewise inspire her horses, instructors, and volunteers, Mary Gwinner, program director of Born 2 Be Equestrian Center in Sanger, Texas, acquired a $2,250 grant to hire 2* licensed Parelli Professional Debbie Adcock.
“Consistency in handling is vital when you have many volunteer hands working with a herd of therapy horses,” Mary said. “The training the volunteers received has made them more effective leaders, teaching them to think like a horse! We have also been fortunate to have Debbie share her talents to teach us all a new and effective way to communicate with our horses.”
Debbie, of Aubrey, Texas, had previously volunteered at the center and enjoyed seeing smiles on participants’ faces. “It’s so delightful!” she said.
One of the sessions Debbie held was on being with horses at liberty. She said: “We talked about having the horse want to be with them instead of running off—sticking to the human better.” She showed how not being so direct line gives the horse an opportunity to be with people. “We spent time watching the horse, seeing what the horse needs at any particular moment instead of rushing through,” Debbie explained.
Another topic was avoiding boredom among horses that do the same thing day after day. “We talked about taking the horses out on a trail ride and doing other things with them,” Debbie said.
Regarding the Seven Games, she emphasized, “The friendly game is the number 1 game for people in wheelchairs.”
Overall, these were her reflections: “It was so fun. I just wanted to bring horse awareness in there. They’re very safety conscious, but I can make it even more safety conscious. It was rewarding to help horses and kids be partners.”
Mary added details from her perspective: “Many breakthrough and ‘aha’ moments took place while we learned about horsenalities and how we can best work with each different horse in our herd. One particular horse, Gypsy, was reluctant to find her place when playing the ‘find your herd’ game. We learned that this 11-year-old tovero Paint is more comfortable relying on herself as a dominant mare than in finding her place underneath a person as her leader. It took at least 45 minutes for Gypsy to begin to even consider placing herself under the human’s leadership. Since then, every time we go into the pasture, she is the first to be in tune to our presence. She might not always come directly to us; however, she immediately comes forward to interact with the person and will play the catching game much more quickly than in the past. We are all now much more aware of how each of our therapeutic riding and driving horses thinks and interacts with our volunteers and staff, as well as with our students.”
In conclusion, Mary said: “All of us at Born 2 Be TEC would like to thank Pat Parelli and the Parelli Foundation for the generous grant that allowed us to become more in tune with the horses in our herd. Debbie was vibrant, fun, and informative, and we all learned so much from our time with her! … We are looking forward to implementing all that we have learned!”