In 35 years of youth work and nursing, Sonja Wingard has witnessed the courage gained from overcoming fears dramatically change peoples’ lives. This is especially noticeable in the transformation from fear to self confidence while working with a thousand-pound horse. Horses invite courage and trust, as well as mirroring our feelings so we can learn to be honest and ask for what we need. The unconditional love offered by smaller animals (especially dogs) also contributes greatly to the healing process.
In 1999, Sonja, Abby Soley and Gwen Hunter started Animals as Natural Therapy to provide a place where people could heal with the help of animal partners. That place is Windy Acres Farm. Sonja, who has a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing, is ANT’s Executive Director, and brings significant experience in working with people and animals as a mother, registered nurse, 4-H leader, equine specialist, and riding instructor. She is certified with NARHA, Certified Horsemanship Association, and Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association. She owes her personal transformation in the way she has learned to view horse wisdom to Frank Bell, Barbara Rector (Adventures in Awareness), her horse herd, and the brave youths and volunteers of ANT.
Sonja has a special love for young people and the elderly and enjoys bringing them together through ANT’s intergenerational programs. She can be reached at director at animalsasnaturaltherapy.org.