Healing H’Arts, as discussed before, works with the surrounding colleges. Besides offering Occupational Therapy related classes to students at Ithaca College, we also work with Wells College offering their students horseback riding for their physical education requirement. This course is offered at two separate times during the week to better fit the students’ schedules.
The course instructor, Elizabeth Barret has work with horses since she was a young girl on her mother’s Morgan horse farm. The farm she grew up on was a horse breeding farm, in fact two of the Morgans she works with in the course, Major and Friday were horses she facilitated the births of. In Elizabeth Barret’s two classes a week, she has four students learning to ride.
Barret has been teaching people to ride since she was 15 years old and has worked at a whole host of barns from Virginia to New Hampshire. She has an M.A. in Forensic Psychology, and M.A. in Forensic Mental Health Counseling. She is certified in Equine Appraisal since 2001 and certified as an Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning. Barret is currently working to get her P.A.T.H. certification.
Major and Friday were both bred and trained by Barret. She puts the new riders and horses together based on size and experience in order to find the best fit. She has not yet needed to switch horses and riders in these courses. With her experience, she has taken to an approach which focuses on the relationship between the horse and the rider. This emphasis on relationship is echoed in her warnings to the students, “it’s not a machine.” The students are encouraged to build a dynamic with their horse and be firm while also being aware that they are living animals.
The Students from Wells College are being taught the basics. This week, in fact, is their last. They went over grooming, putting on the tack, leading, balancing, and even some trotting. The appreciation for the horses by the riders says it all. Even the quieter students have begun talking to their assigned horses while grooming.
“If I can help people get away from all the craziness, that’s what it’s all about,” Barret revealed. She works with a 4H group and also educates her daughter in working with horses. It is asked of the students when they walk through the door to let go of all their stress. What you bring into the interactions with the horse is what they give back to you.
Talking to Barret about her hopes for the work she is doing alongside Wells College students, we learned that she would like Wells College and Healing H’Arts to grow together. She even brought up the hope for a Horse Club. Not just for riding, but for students that want to enjoy the horse in all capacities, whether that is grooming them, working with them, or even volunteering to work them as sidewalkers and the like (in hippotherapy sessions).
15th May 2018, Tuesday, Volunteer Training from 6:00pm-8:00pm