Equine Assisted Therapy Exciting New Tool for Helping Shiloh Children
Shelbina, MO – Providing a Christian environment for abused, neglected children has been the goal at Shiloh Christian Children’s Ranch since it’s beginning in 1977. As times and people change, the way children heal from past hurts changes as well. Shiloh has recently started using Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) as a new way for children to heal emotional scars.
EAP is an experiential therapy that is a relatively new field. It has shown to be effective in treating a variety of emotional health needs, such as behavioral issues, attention deficit disorder (ADD), substance abuse, eating disorders, abuse issues, depression, anxiety, anger management, conflict resolution, relationship problems, and communication issues.
Why horses? Horses are social animals that, like humans, have their own personalities, attitudes and moods. Horses provide an experience for the children to learn hard work and control their emotions and feelings. Given a horse’s large stature, children also learn what it feels like to overcome fear and develop confidence in handling an animal of that size. Horses have the ability to mirror exactly what human body language is saying to them. Experiences with the horses allow children to realize that if they change themselves, the horses will respond positively. These life lessons go hand in hand with what Shiloh is teaching children about growth and healing. Participants in the program learn about themselves by participating in exercises with the horses and then discussing feelings, behaviors and patterns.
EAP involves counseling professionals. Former Hannibal resident, Chris Harley, Shiloh’s Christian Pastoral Counselor, has had well over 72 hours of training in EAP, and continues to train to help the children of Shiloh. Chris says, “EAP is definitely the most effective tool in Shiloh’s counseling tool box.”
Shiloh has been using EAP during the fall season, but winter weather conditions will make being outside with the children too cold. The solution to the cold problem is to build an adequate indoor EAP horse pen at each of Shiloh’s two sites. Another problem is the cost of the project. The total projected cost is expected to be $16,000. A generous grant of $5,600 will pay for a roof and poles for a building at Shiloh’s Kahoka, MO site. An additional $5,600 is needed to build a riding pen at the Clarence, MO site. An additional $5,000 will add wind-breaking siding to both buildings.
Shiloh receives no government funding and relies on private donations for the support of its ministry. Shiloh is welcoming financial funding to help complete the project for the Clarence site. Shiloh has four homes near Clarence, Missouri, and three homes located near Kahoka, Missouri. For more information or to contribute, contact Shiloh’s Jay Craig by calling 573-588-2191 or by email at: [email protected] Information can also be found at www.shilohranch.org.