Founder & Instructor
Sonja Wingard has witnessed lives dramatically change when courage builds and fears are overcome. She believes that this transformation from fear to self-confidence is expedited while working with a thousand-pound horse and that horses invite connection, honesty, respect, and trust -- that they mirror our feelings so that we can learn to recognize our own current state and ask for what we need. She also believes that the unconditional love offered by smaller animals contributes greatly to the healing process. In 1999, at Windy Acres Farm (Sonja's home) 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. Sonja, who has a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing, brings over forty years of experience working with animals and people of all ages and backgrounds as a mother/grandmother, community health nurse, 4-H leader, and equine specialist/ riding instructor. She is certified with the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH) and has presented at three international conferences. She is an Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (Eagala) Equine Specialist and Certified Horsemanship Association instructor. Sonja says that she owes her personal transformation to horses (who she views as sentient beings and divinely-guided teachers sent to help), Barbara Rector (Adventures in Awareness), Debra Stone, and Frank Bell, among others. Sonja has a deep appreciation for the value of young people and the elderly and enjoys bringing them together through ANT’s intergenerational programs. Sonja directed Animals as Natural Therapy from 1999 to 2020, with ANT receiving non-profit of the year by the Bellingham Chamber of Commerce in 2019 under her leadership. Contact Sonja at firstname.lastname@example.org.