(Photo courtesy of Madelyn Esses)

Features

The benefits of equine therapy

All In Stride Horseman & Therapy offers unique help for horses.
<a href="https://highschool.latimes.com/author/madelynesses/" target="_self">Madelyn Esses</a>

Madelyn Esses

March 15, 2022
Sometimes life can be difficult to take in stride, and the nonprofit organization All In Stride tries to help make those more manageable. It offers the transformative power of equine-assisted horsemanship and learning as well as psychotherapy to people with developmental and physical disabilities, foster children, veterans, and others. 

Olwyn Kingery founded this organization in order to spread awareness about equine therapy in addition to wanting to make a difference in the lives of people and animals. 

“The mission is [to create] a program that helps support people through interactions with animals, mainly horses,” Kingery said in an interview.

The organization is also certified by the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association, which means that their equine therapy includes a licensed Mental Health Professional and a qualified Equine Specialist helping the clients and the horses work together.

Horses have a keen sense of awareness, which allows them to be sensitive to and reflect upon the emotional state and behavior of the people around them. Their honest and non-judgemental presence helps provide a message for people to understand their surroundings as well as themselves on a deeper level, according to Kingery.

All in Stride does not only have horses, but they also have a plethora of other animals including miniature horses, miniature goats, miniature donkeys and a miniature cow. Each one of these animals is rescued and given a new purpose at this barn. They are also all trained to calmly interact with people with special needs. 

All In Stride hosts several groups at its location in Thousand Oaks, whether it is teenage girls from a Church-affiliated group home, children with special needs or veterans. During one visit, several girls from the group home were able to bond with each other through spending time with the horses. They were able to groom and ride the horses with the assistance of the volunteers which gave them the opportunity to rely on and trust the horses, themselves, and each other.

Kingery also takes the animals to different events and parades to interact with children with special needs. For one event, they took the animals to Aidan’s Place, a park that is wheelchair and walker accessible. The two miniature horses were even dressed up in Halloween costumes. Huge smiles appeared on the children’s faces the moment they saw the horses according to Kingery. At the events, the children can pet the horses and spend time with them as well as brush them or take them for a walk with assistance from an All In Stride volunteer. 

“When the ponies sit right next to the wheelchairs of the kids, they will reach out to the ponies and [start] to use their functions more readily,” Kingery said.

During another recent event, Kingery took a horse as well as two of the goats to a school for teenagers who are emotionally sensitive. She even trained the goats to jump from her back to the older teen’s backs, which they loved experiencing and was an exercise in trust. 

All in Stride’s goal is to spread awareness in addition to the use of equine therapy to help benefit and make a difference in not only the recipients’ lives but also the volunteers. 

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