A love for horses from a younger age, and her ardour for human well being impressed Sonja Bigalke-Bannan to create her personal enterprise. The College of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Thompson School of Social Work & Public Health alumna owns and runs Coronary heart Horses, a singular remedy facility on Oʻahu’s North Shore that provides therapeutic horseback and equine-assisted psychotherapy.
Being round horses provides purchasers perception into their very own emotions
Survivors of traumatic experiences could reside in a state of hypervigilance, always looking for hazard or threats in a approach that’s dangerous to their well being, in keeping with Bigalke-Bannan. Studying to launch themselves from that state is tough and overwhelming, and equine-assisted remedy can assist.
“Horses are naturally hypervigilant, and their senses are higher than ours, however they’ll additionally go calm rapidly, to allow them to train people learn how to get out of a hyperarousal state,” she stated. “By creating a reference to a horse, folks can study to floor themselves.”
Growing her childhood reference to horses
Bigalke-Bannan took over Coronary heart Horses from a earlier proprietor after incomes her grasp of social work from UH Mānoa in 2014.
Her fondness for horses started at age six when she took using classes along with her Brownie troop. Later in faculty, she taught standard horseback using classes when she acquired a request from a college member with Parkinson illness who wished to study to trip. Then, a scholar who was legally blind additionally requested to take part.
“Working with them was so liberating,” she stated. “It was so inspiring to see what folks can do if they’re given an opportunity and the proper help.”
Aiding purchasers with number of situations
Coronary heart Horses has helped quite a lot of purchasers, ages 2 to 84 years previous, with a variety of well being situations. Folks with situations that restrict their mobility, similar to Parkinson’s illness and cerebral palsy, or biobehavioral situations similar to schizoaffective dysfunction or bipolar dysfunction, and even neurodevelopmental situations similar to autism spectrum dysfunction and a focus deficit/hyperactivity dysfunction, can all profit from equine remedy.
“Horses mirror human feelings—their behaviors replicate the vitality and intent of the individual,” Bigalke-Bannan stated. “Being round horses provides purchasers perception into their very own emotions and supplies them with consciousness of the patterns and behaviors that could be hindering their means to search out efficient options.”
Coronary heart Horses affords a number of modalities of remedy, together with therapeutic horseback using and equine-assisted psychotherapy. Therapeutic horseback using can assist purchasers to enhance their motor perform, sitting posture and stability, lower muscle stress, and assist with nervousness and despair signs.
In equine-assisted psychotherapy, “discuss remedy” classes happen contained in the spherical pen or enviornment with the horses. Because the affected person and therapist focus on the affected person’s trauma and attempt to course of it, the horse is unfastened within the pen and may select to work together with the consumer as they wish to. The presence of the horse can assist the affected person to really feel protected throughout remedy.
Social employees who conduct these classes are educated in utilizing these strategies and change into licensed in conducting these therapies. Bigalke-Bannan is licensed in equine remedy by the Equine Assisted Progress and Studying Affiliation and Equi-Lateral, and is an Eye Motion Desensitization and Reprocessing therapist.
Partnerships and volunteers
Along with referrals from psychotherapists and physicians, Coronary heart Horses companions with a number of group organizations to help purchasers. They embody the Wounded Warrior Undertaking, Pearl Haven, a residential facility for adolescents who’ve survived sexual exploitation or trafficking, and Sprouts, a program which supplies bodily remedy and occupational remedy for youngsters.
All purchasers change into empowered to face their well being challenges by way of the method of working and speaking with the horses. “Everybody who comes right here learns horse science, horse security and horse care. They groom their horse, and study in regards to the tools,” Bigalke-Bannan stated.
The power’s many volunteers, who assist to take care of the horses and assist repairs the ability, come from everywhere in the island and so far as California and Canada. As well as, as an adjunct teacher in subject research, Bigalke-Bannan helps future social employees on the Thompson Faculty of Social Work & Public Well being. Coronary heart Horses serves as a subject placement website for MSW college students.
Essentially the most rewarding side of the work for Bigalke-Bannan is offering an area for those that is calm and quiet, and separate from the remainder of their busy lives. “The farm is a really peaceable area. It supplies a beautiful backdrop for therapeutic and private development,” she stated.