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Wed, Aug. 21

Equine pick the patients for therapy they need

Review/ Diane DeHamer <br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->Kathy Reyes gives attention to her donkey, Petey, that she uses for therapy for people with emotional and psychological needs. Bottom left, Kathy shows her newest mare, Princess, that she uses in sessions.

Review/ Diane DeHamer <br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->Kathy Reyes gives attention to her donkey, Petey, that she uses for therapy for people with emotional and psychological needs. Bottom left, Kathy shows her newest mare, Princess, that she uses in sessions.

Winston Churchill once said, "The outside of a horse is good for the inside of a man."

Kathleen (Kathy) Reyes of Hacienda De Contenido (Ranch of Contentment) totally agrees with that motto. Kathy is psychotherapist and she and her horses work to help people with mental health issues, anger management, substance abuse, eating disorders and so on.

"I have been in behavior health my whole life and loved horses my whole life. My first memories are of horses," Kathy said. "As a child every story I wrote and every art project I did was about horses."

After working in the psychotherapy field for many years, Kathy heard about the idea of using horses to help people, so two years ago she started Hacienda de Contenida at her home in Chino Valley. She uses her horses, Boo, Reyna, Princess and Batista, and her donkey, Petey, in her sessions.

"I hold all my sessions in the arena with the horses loose."

Kathy prefers having the therapy sessions in the arena with her horses instead of an office atmosphere.

"A lot of times when people are in the office atmosphere with a therapist, they will say what they think the therapist wants to hear. But they can't do that with these horses, because you can't fool them. I am still amazed at what the horses do. They seem to pick up what's going on with the client."

Kathy tells about a big, burly Marine who came to her sessions. He had just come back from Iraq, and said he thought this was stupid, and that he didn't even like horses.

"But my horse, Batista, particularly would actually lay his head on this guy's chest. This man would get very tearful and this tapped into a deep hurt and issues he had from the war. Toward the end of his sessions, this Marine came out and would literally run out to the horses. When this client left he said this was the most powerful therapy he had ever had," Kathy said.

Another client Kathy spoke of was a young man who was going through detoxification (of alcohol or drugs), and still felt very sick and scared. It was his second session, and as he was sitting there, Boo, who isn't normally a real affectionate horse, walked over to this young man and started nuzzling him and licking his face. The man started crying and said, 'This horse knows how I feel and is comforting me,'" Kathy recalled. "The horses act differently with each client, and it's no coincidence."

Kathy is now talking to the schools in this area about starting these programs there too.

"It is hard to explain this work, so I do give free demos to people," Kathy said.

People can reach Kathy at 928-830-2222 or www.horseshelpus.com, or e-mail: horseshelp@cableone.net.

Kathy gets an incredible amount of satisfaction from her work in psychotherapy.

"How lucky I am that I can take my entire working experience and combine it with my life-long love of horses."

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