COFFEE CREEK — On Sunday, August 28, 2022, Restorative Strides Equine Center in Fergus County hosted a "Pony Painting" event.
Alli Caraveo, director of the equine facility, has studied gestalt equine therapy for several years. Gestalt therapy is a form of coaching which facilitates the bond between person and horse to rehabilitate mental health.
“I work with horses to help people through trauma, grief, disappointment, self-esteem issues, we also do corporate retreats,” explains Caraveo.
“Being outside with an animal was very freeing, I felt like I was able to be more involved and it’s maybe a little less scary,” says Wendy Harris, a client of Caraveo.
Caraveo started her group after a friend of hers approached her saying her daughter wasn’t doing well emotionally, fearing she may take her own life. Caraveo then decided to devote her time to giving youth tools to manage their stresses. Her horses have been the perfect solution.
“I can tell someone all day long, there’s so much more on the other side, but when a horse tells them that, that really changes their perspective. They understand it more when a horse tell them they’re worthy,” says Caraveo.
Alli’s daughter Kaelyn shared a similar sentiment, saying, “Horses can’t lie to you. If they know you’re not being truthful to yourself, they will tell you you're not being truthful to yourself, unlike people where you can't sense that.”
There may be some who view the gestalt methodology with an air of skepticism, but those who’ve worked closely with Alli have seen her change lives with her horses.
“We had a woman who came to us who had been sexually abused, and came here very timid, almost afraid, and she left here a whole new woman. It was incredible to watch her transformation over the weekend, working with Alli coaching her to overcome some of the worst things that can happen to a person. To know Alli helped give her a future was incredible. The work that she does makes a difference in people’s lives, it’s profound,” says Caraveo’s friend and client, Kaylee Jordan.
The free painting workshop aims to raise donations so that Alli can fund a camp for kids and teens who can benefit from a safe space to talk about about their lives. The camp she’s planning will feature five workshops which engage youth with their own selves, personalities, and futures. Click here to visit the website.
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