This fall, Wesleyan college will be offered a new set of courses to receive a minor in equine therapy.
Jessica Denniston is smack in the middle of summer camp season, but after camp season ends, she will change gears with a new program that's going to call Wesleyan College home.
"Equine-assisted therapy was my minor in school,” Denniston said. “From addictions to eating disorders to family therapy we use it for team building and corporate training."
Equine-assisted therapy is all about interacting with the animals.
Luna is a new addition, brought in just for the program. She is a full-grown pony.
"She is an awesome introduction to horses because she's not huge, so she is far less intimidating to someone who isn't really sure they want to do equine-assisted therapy,” Denniston said.
You can understand the unease.
"It is a little bit of a tough sell at first until they see something happen,” Denniston admitted. “I wasn't much of a believer when I started going through everything and then my first training watching everything unfold in the arena and it's amazing what happens."
Horses are herd animals and the therapy can work because they sense feelings, which can become a catalyst to conversation with a professional.
"Sometimes you will have your sweetest kindest horse out in the ring for a session and they don't want to walk up to that person that day and then you talk through why do you think this is happening,” Denniston explained. “It's about projecting it onto the horse and not the client."
She says seven students have signed up so far and that Wesleyan is only the second school in the state to add this program.