It has been said that horses have the ability to become aware of human’s emotions and needs in a way that creates self-awareness and the start of the healing process. Sensing the needs of humans, equine therapy has become a popular, and successful form of therapy for people suffering from a variety of mental and physical ailments.
Using that knowledge of both the human mind and equine management, local married couple Derek and Rachel White have opened up Hidden View Ranch in Beaver Dam, a place for people to connect to horses and heal at the same time.
Derek, is a homegrown Tremonton man and is an Equine Specialist. He helps maintain the physical safety of both the horses and the clients but also gives a helping hand in the sessions along with licensed professional counselors.
Hidden View Ranch follows the EAGALA Model, an equine assisted psychotherapy and learning based method that follows key points such as reality therapy, gestalt therapy, brief therapy and systems therapy. This model offers fully developed and professionally endorsed treatment for mental health professionals using Equine Assisted Psychotherapy.
It takes a licensed mental health professional and a certified Equine Specialists, as well as horses, to approach and start the healing processes for those suffering from mental and physical ailments such as anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, eating disorders and much more.
Derek has a degrees in Animal Science from Southern Utah University and Equine Studies and Rachel will receive her degree in Social Work this December. They also work closely with licensed professionals including Derek’s mother, Gaylyn White, a licensed Professional Counselor and EAGALA Mental Health Specialist.
“Our main goal is to help with mental health and wellness in the community and to really give the community a venue to allow healing to happen and to reach their potential,” Derek said.
Derek pointed out the stigma many face with the idea of seeking help for mental health issues.
“We don’t want to look at it that way. We want to provide this opportunity. It’s different for people,” Derek said. “It’s an experience. It’s not a regular talk therapy. It’s something where you can come out, be in a beautiful area and have the novelty of the horses with you.”
“Through them you can work through any problems. You put it on them and they carry the weight for you so it’s not so heavy internally. Your story turns into this external thing out in front of you and you can then work on it,” he added.
“It’s the experience of it,” said Rachel. “They keep having those experiences with the horses and that’s the cool thing about it.”
Hidden View Ranch has five equine therapy horses. They are not a residential center instead offer outpatient services. They also offer several group sessions that target specific clients. They have an anxiety group, a group just for women and a youth support group.
“We want to make an opportunity for people to come express their mental health in a way that’s healthy and an outlet for them in multiple avenues. It’s not just with talking to someone and the beauty with this method of therapy is that you don’t have to talk a lot. Sometimes it’s just being with the horses,” Rachel said.
“That’s why is so successful with autism, with PTSD, or people that have had those difficult moments in their past, they don’t have to share everything they’ve experienced,” she added.
They don’t focus on just one area of mental health concerns because they want to offer the community a variety of coping mechanisms. They have multiple therapists on their team that do specialize in such topics as grief, postpartum depression, PTSD and much more.
They officially purchased the ranch and property in March 2019 and then went through process of getting licenses to run their business before officially opening their doors in June 2019.
“We’ve had really good experiences so far,” said Derek.
Rachel reflected on a previous experience with equine therapy and a patient that was having suicidal thoughts, something they weren’t aware of at the time. They watched as the horse circled around the patient in a protective way, helping her reveal her struggles and get help.
“Horses are very sensitive and they’re the most honest animals that are out there. Whatever we’re putting out there they are going to respond,” Derek said.
“They pick up senses that we as humans don’t. They have emotions that we don’t have,” Rachel said. “The horses are experiencing things that we are projecting that we don’t even know.”
Surprisingly the EAGALA Model requires no riding or horsemanship and all therapy sessions are done on the ground in specific healing activities. The horses and interaction with them is a metaphorical learning system. Part of the model is the firm belief that clients have solutions to their issues and horses and therapy allow them the opportunity to discover them.
“There’s been a lot of research study done on equine therapy and the benefits of it,” Derek said.
“When a horse comes around and is getting right next to you it really pushes your comfort zone and that’s where the growth really occurs is on those boundaries of your comfort zone by making you stretch a little bit and making you learn something new and pushing you a little bit. That’s one of the reasons I think horses are key,” Derek said. “It’s through some of those experiences that you find the healing and the growth and some of the empowerment that comes with giving you confidence.”
“Horses, we believe, are divine. They have senses that as humans we don’t know how to relate to and emotions and those horses know how to respond,” Rachel added.
For more information on Hidden View Ranch visit their website at www.thehiddenviewranch.com or call them at (435) 554-1106. They are located at 15520 N. 400 W. in Beaver Dam. They can also be found on Facebook.