It is Gala time here at ANT a time to gather and support while celebrating amongst friends.  Just before Gala time is the Winter Newsletter a gathering of accomplishments and stories of courage and growth from the past year.   Here are a couple of highlights from this installment of TAILS FROM WINDY ACRES.  If you are interested we have posted all our newsletters for review in our newsletter archive here.

Meanwhile enjoy our Winter 2015 Newsletter for download as PDF or view the excerpts below.  We would love to hear your positive stories of courage about ANT or what parts of our services & content you like on FB or via our contact page or see you at the Gala!

[button link=”” size=”medium” target=”_blank or _self” icon=”book” color=”alternative-1″ lightbox=”true or false”]Read Winter 2015 Newsletter[/button]

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By Sonja Wingard, ANT DirectorSonjaPicNL

We are often asked: What makes ANT’s programming so unique and effective?

The programs at Animals as Natural Therapy vary a lot. We have teens visiting elders with small animals: setting a rabbit on a woman’s lap and hearing her stories of the rabbits she had as a child; or holding Juan the therapy rooster which elicits comments like “Let’s have him for lunch.” to “I have always been afraid of birds. He’s beautiful. This is the first time I ever touched a bird.” We have day camps where youth learn the empowerment of getting to really know a horse and have him trust you enough to let you hold his hoof while you clean the rocks out and then ride him into the for-est. We have a veteran break down in tears as he identifies that he wants freedom from his painful past, the same joyful freedom of this six month old filly as she recklessly frolics around the pen. We have foster youth share the pain of an-other potential adoptive family declining them, and yet hold-ing onto hope that soon it will happen.

How does ANT create the environment for such a wide variety of people to find some hope, healing, and self-confidence?

JumpyHorseOur varied programs at ANT are based on four basic building blocks:

 our Full Value Contract

 honoring the intuitive nature of the horse

allowing grace


 finding metaphors

Our Full Value Contract helps create the safe environment that is necessary so one can challenge oneself to change and try out a new way of handling life. First, we agree to keep each other safe, both physically and emotion-ally. This is a big deal around large animals like horses. You have to be constantly aware and watching out for not only your own safety, but also assessing if your horse feels threatened by another horse. You have to recognize your own anxiety level and often face your fears head on.  Read More

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By Lorna Shepardson

ANT Mental Health Counselor

Thank you for sharing your wisdom with these very young and not so young ANT participants. I often notice you waiting near your gate as though you are expecting them to arrive. You amaze me each time we ask you to join us outside of LornaSuciayour pen. You are such a willing partner. It’s as though you know the lesson before it unfolds.

You have stood next to some very broken kids of late. One who is just beginning to find that she can learn to trust, learn to ask for help, learn to take life one slow step at a time, as she reaches deep into herself, finding some small inkling of self-worth. Sucia you are so very present to these children’s needs.

Thank you for the lesson last week when I was unable to shift that little kid who was so stuck that she was unable to stop needing to shut the door her way. You somehow knew by exiting the shavings barn you would draw that child’s attention from her inner turmoil. She ran to you and said “my Sucia horse, come back I need you.” You are wisdom. You are grace.

You are so willing to walk alongside these kids. I see you watching them as they drop your lead rope seemingly wandering off to pick-up and move the logs and the heavy concrete infused orange cones, dragging them over to show you up close what wondrous new tools they have found. Then the child is off to drum on any object that can be drummed on – from the barrels to the fence. Some horses might be terrified. You are so very patient. You just wait for them to re-engage with you.


Thank you for providing these kids with a new way of feeling safe so that they can explore new ways of do-ing things. I watch as they walk up to you and hug your leg, melting into your warm winter coat, breath-ing in your wisdom and calm. You give these kids something to smile about and are helping to heal some very deep wounds. I appreciate you so very much. I can hard-ly wait to see what lesson you have to teach us next week.

In gratitude, Lorna