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Zoar Ridge Stables To Create Embrace Hope -- Sandy Hook Equine Assisted Therapy Foundation Providing Healing To Those Affected By The Newtown, Connecticut Tragedy


SANDY HOOK, Conn., Jan. 31, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In an effort to help with the healing process of children, families, first responders and communities affected by the Newtown, Ct. tragedy,  Zoar Ridge Stables ( Sandy Hook, Ct.) and the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA), have come together to offer Equine Assisted Psychotherapy free of charge to those in need.  Embrace Hope--Sandy Hook Equine Assisted Therapy Foundation will become a permanent part of the Zoar Farm, and will provide funds and facilities for equine assisted mental health programs. EAGALA, which has trained over 8,000 individuals in 41 countries in this experiential modality since its founding in 1999 will provide the services by certified practitioners through Relatively Stable LLC, an EAGALA Model organization.

Unlike therapeutic riding where a client is mounted on a horse, EAGALA Model EAP sessions take place on the ground, are facilitated by both a Licensed Mental Health Professional and a qualified Equine Specialist, are solution-oriented and follow a code of ethics.  Horse therapy or EAP can be used as both an adjunct or alternative to talk therapy. Horses often break through the barriers that in more traditional modes can stall individuals, couples, families and groups. EAGALA Certified professionals work with a broad spectrum of behavioral/mental health issues and learning goals including ADHD, autism, depression, addiction, eating disorders, couples therapy, stress management, recidivism, teamwork, sexual abuse, leadership skills and trauma-related disorders.

Zoar Ridge Stables has been part of the Sandy Hook community for nearly twenty years.  "We are a very close community and are all grieving. Many of the children we lost in the shooting were students, family, friends and neighbors. In their honor, and in hopes of helping those affected by the tragedy, Brian and I are forming a foundation;  making our farm available to reach as many people as possible who may need help coping with this terrible tragedy.  Our farm has always been a place where the children of Sandy Hook, are happy and feel safe. I hope this program can help restore those feelings, that being with the horses and the special bonds that they can give, can help heal them," stated Annette Sullivan, owner of Zoar Ridge Stables.

"Responses to trauma do not always manifest in ways that can easily be recognized nor do they always occur immediately.  Because of their size, innate and acute sensitivity, and non verbal nature, horses have a unique appeal helping clients of all ages become more engaged in the therapeutic process," said Lynn Thomas, Licensed Clinical Social Worker and founder and Executive Director of EAGALA. "This form of therapy is especially helpful for children and their families as the horses provide an emotionally safe way to project the strong and difficult feelings stemming from trauma and loss. Trauma is held in the body both physically and emotionally and the horses help healing occur in both these critical areas."

Clients, for example, might be charged with the task of helping a horse through an obstacle.  Instead of simply talking about their problems or being led to solutions, the client works with the animal to find solutions.  The horse acts as teacher and unlocks the client.  The animal facilitates emotional breakthroughs, and the effect, therapists report, can be magical.

"We are so thankful for Annette and her team at Zoar.  It is with their passion and initiative that we will now be able to start providing the much needed services to the community of Newtown," added Jimmy Downes of Relatively Stable who is EAGALA Advanced Certified and part of the EAGALA New England Networking Group.  

To learn more about equine assisted psychotherapy or to schedule an appointment please call or email Jimmy Downes 203-240-3937, or log onto


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