Our People and our Horses
Board of Directors
President: Sharon Spinney
Vice-President: Kristie Carriker
Treasurer: Terri Wheeler
Secretary: Bernadette Tuthill
Directors: Nancy Lee, Sharon Palmer, Sam Brow
Dr. Margaret Johnson Gaddis
Barb Wolfe, MA, LPC -
Lead mental health counselor
Penney Stahl, MA, LPC
Allison Taylor, PATH International Certified Advanced Level Instructor
Rachel Cantor, PATH International Certified Instructor
Trish Lemke, EAGALA Level I, CEIP-ED
Maintenance, horse care, facilitator in training
Bleu is a wise and gentle teacher. He’s the grandpa of the Durango group and he shows clients the true meaning of patience. Bleu loves to be with children and stands like a statue when they are around his body and legs – he seems to be constantly concerned about their safety. He is especially good with people who come to us with a lot of fear. He stands quietly while being groomed and allows clients to gain trust and confidence in his presence. Bleu also teaches these same people to be assertive, because he would rather stand in one place than ‘walk on’. Bleu spent most of his life on a dude string and as a pack horse – when he first came to us he had very little connection to the people in his life, but after a few months as an equine assisted therapy horse, his devotion and caring for all those that encounter him is immediately apparent. Here he is with a young friend after a Spirit Painting session.
Everyone in the field of equine assisted therapies experiences over and over again the power of horses to act as mirrors to human emotions, feelings and behaviors. This mirroring work is not as apparent in all horses to equal degrees, but it is something with which Brooke, our Thoroughbred mare, is truly gifted. She is extremely sensitive to moods and lets clients know immediately when inner feelings don’t match up with outward behavior. Because she has experienced trauma in her life, she is especially in tune to those experiencing emotional or psychological pain, particularly with the girls in the Circle of Healing Project. We have seen her approach people in crisis and gently stand by, giving them strength and encouragement. Brooke is very perceptive and keys in to emotions, encouraging clients to experience self-worth. Her sensitivity and empathy to human behavior and emotions makes her an amazing part of our equine team.
Elvin, a 20-year old Quarter Horse gelding, is a caring and intuitive healer. The mental health work we have seen him do with people is truly amazing. Sometimes as staff, we ask ourselves if Elvin really just did what we thought he did in his healing work, and the answer is always, “ Yes!” He is a horse that is truly gifted in the work that he does and many times all we have to do as facilitators is watch, learn and accept that he is usually wiser than we are. Elvin came to us after years of work as a schooling and eventing horse. He became injured during a ride and would never be completely sound. Elvin found a new home with Medicine Horse and we believe that he has found his true calling. Horses like Elvin don’t come around too often in a lifetime and we are incredibly lucky to have him as part of our team.
A 16-year old Palomino Paint mare is the lead mare of our group and she is quick to tell everyone about it – especially at feeding time. Before she came to us, she was a competition horse and she still has that drive to compete and work hard. Our job as staff is to teach her that she now has a home where she can relax and begin to work with people in a different way. Hasta has a lot of energy and needs frequent reminders about how to behave – which allows for countless opportunities to talk to kids about their behavioral problems and why these might be frustrating for adults in their lives. One of our teenage girls who has a particularly hard time controlling her risk-taking behaviors kept saying during a recent session with Hasta, “Oh my gosh, she’s just like me!” These “Aha” moments that Hasta frequently shows people provide substance and meaning to many of our sessions.
Indis is one of our American Bashkir Curly horses. She is 10 years old and a beauty -- she knows it, too! Indi has a dressage background but has also been known to venture out on mountain trails. Being a "Curly," she is very sure-footed and confident on the trails, and tons of fun to ride!
Lucy (a.k.a. Miss Versatility) is more than 20 years old and from the Navajo Reservation. She has endless amounts of patience for our clients, and is our lead therapy mare. She has the amazing ability to sense the clients who need her special touch. Lucy is used in all the Medicine Horse Programs - thus the “Miss Versatility” moniker. She is especially important in our “Survivors of Domestic Violence” program. When not working her special magic with our clients she may be found on the roundup for local cattle drives. She never ceases to amaze us! We often hear clients say, “I Love Lucy” !
Missy (Little Missy) is a retired ranch horse who is leased to Medicine Horse. She is 32 years old, but you'd never know it! Missy is one of the mainstays of our therapeutic riding program and takes care of every client in such a gentle way. She never wavers in her devotion to clients. She not only ‘rocks’ but she IS our ‘rock’. You Go Girl!
(Jade, Rico and Quinn)
Jodi Harris sponsors Quinn
Jade and Rico need sponsors!
Our youngest additions are three adorable draft horse crosses, (l to r: Jade, Rico and Quinn) adopted from a Premarin Breeding Farm in Canada.
Premarin is a drug whose name originates from a key ingredient, pregnant mare's urine. It is prescribed to alleviate symptoms of menopause. Pregnant mares used for Premarin production are harnessed to urine collection bags six months a year. 60,000 grade foals, are the by-products of this industry. The majority will become casualties of slaughter. Through a grant, in the fall of 2006 Medicine Horse was able to rescue three fillies.
These fillies were part of our Circle of Healing Project, where they were partnered with at-risk teens learning the values of the horse-human bond. Teens learn to value themselves and others, while taking on responsibility for the nurturing and care of their foals. Jade, Rico and Quinn sense they were rescued and share their special joy and love with everyone they meet.
Jade - Jade is our 4 year old Percheron/Thoroughbred cross mare who was one of the PMU babies that we brought down from Canada as a weanling. She is a big girl at 16.2 hands already and she’s still growing! Jade has just started her training under saddle, which has been challenging and fun for her trainers. Even though our clients won’t be riding Jade for several more years, she is great for groundwork exercises – her size, strength and love of being very close to people helps our clients to learn how to establish respect, develop assertiveness and work on body awareness issues.
Quinn - Quinn is also four years old and is a Belgian/Quarter Horse cross. She is not as big as the other PMU youngsters, and stands at 15.2 hands. Quinn has started work under saddle and is proving to be a calm, gentle girl. We think she will excel in therapy work as she has endless amounts of patience with our clients.
Rico - Rico is the third of our PMU youngsters. She is 16.1 hands and stockier than the others. She is a gentle giant but can be challenging at times so she has not yet started working with our clients. We will keep you posted on the progress of this girl.
Jay Jay is another of our Bashkir Curly Horses. What’s a Curly you might ask? The exact origin of Curlies is one of the greatest mysteries of the horse world. There have been many theories on this, some believing that the "curly" part of the horse came from the Bashkir region of Russia. To date nothing has been proven. What is known is that the earliest documented Curly Horses in North America were with Native Americans in the Winter Count of 1801-2. Jay Jay is a descendant of those early Curlies and has been used as a riding & pack horse in the mountains of Nevada and the hills of Mancos. Due to an injury in 2006 he was donated to Medicine Horse for use as a Therapy Horse. He has been working with Youth at Risk and is excelling in that role. He has no pretenses – what you see is what you get – you can’t fool JayJay! He’s a favorite with clients because Curlies are hypoallergenic - they are less likely to cause an allergic response. Curlies are known for being versatile, hardy and gentle horses and Jay Jay is no exception.
Rosie, our cute little Haflinger/Gypsy cross pony, is the newest addition to the herd in Durango. Since she is only a 3 year old, she is in training, but we hope to have her be our vaulting and driving pony in the future. Rosie has a great temperament and really wants to learn, but she also has her own opinions about most things, so she is a great partner for our clients who are working on assertiveness and confidence.
In memoriam: Dear friends we miss
We lost Alex this past summer. He had been with Medicine Horse since we started. So as you can imagine, his are some big "horseshoes" to fill. Alex, was our little Steady Eddie. He was a favorite with just about every kid he ever met, in part because of his size. Alex could also be quite shy and charming. He would make you work to win him over. But once you did, you knew how truly blessed you were to have his friendship. We miss you little man.
With hearts full of gratitude and heads full of memories, we sadly say goodbye to our good friend, Lysingur. Lee was a little pony with a big personality – everyone who had the chance to spend time with him, whether it was for an hour or for a year, understood what a special character he was. He gave unconditional love to the people that he was with and would stand quietly for as long as they wanted to groom him – and then follow them around like a big puppy when they went to leave. Lee was an ambassador for our
Seniors Outreach program and spent many hours at various nursing homes and assisted living facilities standing patiently while people in walkers and wheelchairs crowded around him, petting his furry neck and sharing stories about their pasts. We could always count on Lee to bring out smiles, happiness and hope wherever he went.
Lee, you will be greatly missed. Thank you for the countless hours of healing work that you gave to the clients and staff of Medicine Horse.
Our dear friend Whiskey
Whiskey had no strangers in his life, because he befriended everyone who came his way. We affectionately called him, "The Medicine Horse Greeter"--his M.O... nicker to people until they would come say "hi," then "velcro" on to them until they gave him a neck or chest rub!!
It has only been a short time since we lost Whiskey, but it seems like forever. We all miss him more than we can say.