By Brooke Felger
Nestled back on Hoosier Valley road in Traverse City is a tranquil farm appropriately named PEACE Ranch. At first glance, it resembles a regular farm; horses, outbuildings, and gardens. However, it is so much more than that. I recently had the opportunity to meet with Jackie Kaschel, executive director, and learn about her organization and take a tour.
PEACE Ranch is home to unique rescue horses, most of whom have suffered some sort of abuse or neglect, and were difficult to place. These horses act as “therapists”, helping those who also are struggling with the effects of trauma in their own lives. Sound crazy? Don’t be so quick to judge. In 2010, President Obama allocated funds to provide Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) to veterans, and according to Psychology Today, it is “undoubtedly on its way to becoming the new “must do” form of healing” (www.psychologytoday.com).
Jackie explained that unlike dogs or cats, horses are powerful prey animals. Naturally predisposed to read emotions and body language, horses are non-judgmental. Individuals receiving EAP will benefit from increased confidence, mindfulness, connectedness, and more. PEACE Ranch offers therapy to people from all walks of life, but often are working with children and veterans. One veteran in particular went from being a recluse to becoming a state-certified Peer Support Specialist. Because of PEACE Ranch, there are many stories like his to tell.
PEACE Ranch offers regular classes and events including “Hug and Groom” and Herd Meditation. Three hundred words just doesn’t do EAP or the ranch justice, but I will say as someone who has suffered from childhood trauma, I was surprised how emotional and moving this experience was.
If you or someone you know is struggling with the effects of trauma in their life, please visit www.peaceranchtc.com or call 231-499-4736 for more information.
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