The Parelli Foundation has made a grant to Windhaven Therapeutic Riding (WHTR), a non-profit organization that offers a variety of courses for veterans, active-duty, and reserve members of the military in La Center, Washington. Created by veterans for veterans, the program runs for a minimum of two years and provides an effective treatment alternative to those for whom standard treatment has not been effective or when treatment side effects are not tolerated well. The courses facilitate healing of service related physical and psychological injuries (e.g. Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), etc.) through exploration of mutually beneficial human-equine relationships and equestrian skill development (liberty and riding). With fifteen horses on approximately seven acres, a round pen, a covered arena and a legion of volunteers, WHTR offers a safe and relaxed environment for program participants of all abilities and ages.
The Parelli Foundation and WHTR recognize that Natural Lifemanship is an equine therapy technique based on the neuroscience of trauma and is intrinsically compatible with natural horsemanship. In natural horsemanship the relationship with the horse is one of connection and partnership, not control and compliance. Natural Lifemanship is particularly effective in helping veterans. In 2017, the Foundation awarded WHTR a $2000 grant to advance their studies in Natural Lifemanship.
In January 2018, thanks to the grant, two volunteers, Denice Larson-Morrison (one of the owners of the WHTR program and an instructor), and Marilee Donovan PhD (the Director of Education and Research for WHTR and an instructor), completed the Natural Lifemanship Intensive course in Texas. Later in 2018, they will become certified in Natural Lifemanship. One of WHTR’s future goals is a certification of their entire staff.
The data collected from the veterans who participate in the WHTR programs already show significantly reduced anxiety levels, significantly reduced anger and pain, decreased feelings of detachment and isolation, and increased energy levels. However, what is so salient about WHTR is that the horses’ well-being is just as important as the veterans’. Horses are the true therapists here, and the relationship between humans and equines in this context is mutually beneficial.
Thank you to our many donors who have made it possible for the Parelli Foundation to fund this type of training based in natural horsemanship. If you would like to help fund this type of program for natural horsemanship and veterans and other natural horsemanship based programs through the Parelli Foundation, please make your donation at https://parellifoundation.org/donations/.