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Horse Wisdom for Heroes

A Program for Veterans

The experience is designed to give participating veterans…

· 6 in-person sessions of 1.5 to 2-hours each at First Nature Ranch

· Interaction with other veterans and facilitators in a community of safety

· Experiences of deep connection with horses, nature, and the group

· Understanding of group dynamics to transform conflict into collaboration

· Tools and resources that can be integrated into life

· Experiences to enhance self-awareness, resilience-building, and growth

Learning Objectives. Through the time in the program, participants will gain tools to...

1. Experience a sense of peacefulness within

2. Increase their sense of connection and belonging

3. Enhance their self-awareness and strengthen their reflection and renewal practices

4. Identify habitual behavioral patterns that impede their effectiveness

5. Reconnect with the natural world

6. Feel some joy and hope in a world of urgent challenges

 

Program Outcomes

This program is designed to help veterans foster a sense connection and reduce isolation, develop practices for greater self-awareness, emotional and social regulation, and relational skills to improve their individual and collaborative outcomes in their relationships at home, at work, and elsewhere in life. This leads to greater personal life satisfaction, a sense of meaning, purpose, and hope, and to be of contribution within their communities.

 

Here’s what we evaluate in the program:

· Improved Emotional Self-regulation and Awareness

· Stronger Social Connectedness

· Connection to Hope and Purpose

· Mindfulness and Stress Reduction

· Enhanced Mood, Optimism and Self Confidence

 

Program Details:

Sessions will build upon one another. We will start with a meet and greet and check in with the facilitators, conversation about creating an emotional safe space and physical safety around the horses. We will focus on building connection with others and then discuss strategies and practices for respectfully approaching the horses, eventually haltering,

hanging with and, as they make progress with this, leading and grooming the horses. Light refreshments will be served.

 

More detail about the activities included in the program:

· Herd Observation – Understanding herd dynamics and learning horse body language so participants can learn how to communicate with them using their own body language

· Building Connection – developing our approach to the horses and building our herd to create a sense of belonging

· Space awareness – developing and setting safe boundaries, including awareness about our own bodies and energy how these affect the horses

· Haltering – Getting the horse’s permission and preparing/positioning to halter in which the participant learns the difference between accepting versus tolerating

· Grooming – Connection using touch with our bodies, then our grooming tools; finding itchy-scratchy places, allowing mutual grooming, learning how horses groom each other

· Leading – Being a respected, respectful, and clear leader for a horse to follow requires body awareness, space sharing, and body language

Co-Facilitators:

Kerul Kassel, President and Executive Director of First Nature Foundation

Dr. Kerul Kassel has almost two decades of leadership coaching and transformative facilitation experience, with multiple coaching credentials. She has been quoted in TIME magazine, Real Simple, the Chicago Tribune, and elsewhere. Dr. Kassel received a PhD in Human and Organizational Systems from Fielding Graduate University. She’s the author of several books. Her horses are her leadership gurus, always teaching her leadership and life lessons that she shares with her playshop participants.

 

Karen Woodbury, Natural Horsemanship Professional

Karen was born into a United States Marine Corps family to a retired First Sargent.

As a child she was introduced to horses which led her to becoming a horse lover

and equestrian with 30+ years’ experience. In 2000 her horsemanship journey led her to Parelli Natural Horsemanship. In 2010 she achieved her instructor status as a 3-star Parelli Professional. As a Natural Horsemanship instructor, she is able to teach people and develop horses, on a journey from starting a relationship to building a true partnership. Furthering her own Horsemanship journey is another path to reach others in sharing the gift of the Horse. She became a certified Equine Specialist through P.A.T.H. International which allows her to collaborate with organizations that serve Veterans and their families providing Equine Assisted Learning.

If you are interested in bringing a group of veterans for this six week program, or partnering with the program, please email info@firstnaturefoundation.org. We are not currently accepting individual application for this program.