Equine assisted mental health services can come in many shapes and sizes, but as we know one size does not fit all. The Cottonwood Tucson approach to Equine assisted therapy is eclectic and multi-faceted. Our dually trained Equine assisted practitioners have the breadth and depth needed to meet the needs of a wide range of clientele.
All sessions are on the ground, with no mounted work, as most of the horses in the team have retired from previous careers themselves and Cottonwood is their second chance in life, too. Many people are surprised to know that horses do not need to be ridden and that a relationship built from the ground up can create trust and understanding that will take them farther, should they decide to ride in the future. Activities include reflective round pen, walking the equine labyrinth with a trusted equine companion, obstacle courses, grooming and a wide variety of encounters designed to facilitate insight, somatic awareness, emotional intelligence and congruence.
With equine assisted therapy, individuals have the opportunity to set their own goals and work through fear at their own pace. Many people coming to the barn have a history of accidents with horses that instilled fear. Other people have a rich and varied history of significant equine encounters. Each individual brings that history, good, bad or indifferent and has a chance to explore further how the presence of horse can provide a portal into a new way of understanding their beliefs, behaviors, feelings and perspectives.
Horses are quintessential Zen masters, able to provide biofeedback to the person who has chosen to interact with them. And because of their natural state of presence are able to assist clients in bridging the gap between mental preoccupation with the past and future, to actually feeling alive in the present. Not idle presence but active relational interconnectedness. Many clients report this encounter with the horses at the cottonwood barn to be the first time in recent years where they have felt at peace and able to feel fully in the here and now.