As the coronavirus pandemic continues to take a toll on people’s mental health and wellbeing, an equestrian center in California is offering programs for healing.
Sabine Niederberghaus started La Esperanza Ranch in Topanga Canyon, California, 27 years ago, but it wasn’t until COVID-19 hit when she decided to start the Equine Leadership Program.
“I had time during the pandemic to think about what I was doing and to feel where my mission was going to be,” Niederberghaus told Fox News.
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She added: “When this all opened back up and I was foreseeing that people were going to get stressed and they’re going to get you know, existence problems, communication problems in the family…. I thought, you know what? I’m going to be helping some people and I hope I will help a lot of people to find to themselves their true inside, their emotions, their awareness, their energy levels.”
The Equine Leadership Program is an individualized program. Niederberghaus matches people with horses. That connection is meant to help the person “build up their confidence” as they work with their horse, Niederberghaus told Fox.
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The Equine Leadership Program is said to help people with depression, anxiety, trauma or other needs.
“There is CEOs that have a problem getting across to their team members, composers that have a problem concentrating on their music, or actors and actresses that’s lost the confidence in front of camera,” Niederberghaus said. “And it’s all because they have lost touch to themselves. And the horses are the ones that bring them back there.”
According to The Academy for Coaching with Horses, another organization which offers the same program, horse therapy helps people build leadership and self-awareness skills through horse-human interactions.
The interactions allow individuals to “identify and shift the limiting behavior patterns that prohibit them from developing trusting relationships in business settings,” according to its website.
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One of Niederberghaus’ clients, Sienna Nelson, came to the program while she was struggling with insecurities related to a skin condition she suffered from.
“I wasn’t even really going outside,” Nelson told Fox. “I was kind of afraid of everything, water, dust, you know, because of my skin…. On the first day, I felt more present, more grounded, more connected to my inner voice. And I’ve just gained a lot of confidence.”
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Niederberghaus explained that horses have such excellent healing qualities because of their “incredible development of their senses.”
“They are a mirror to you when you come and you work with them, I can tell within thirty seconds where you’re at,” Niederberghaus said.
As the pandemic continues, Niederberghaus said she has seen a growing interest in her program.
“It’s beautiful to see the reactions of people,” she said. “I think that the touch to nature is another symbol that this horse reflects that brings them to me.”