10th Mountain Equine in Eagle is teaming up with SpeakUp ReachOut to offer two free introductions to equine-assisted trauma release, a therapeutic method that combines mindfulness and breathwork with animal interaction to release feelings of trauma and anxiety.
The Healing with Horses events will be held at Brush Creek Ranch, with an English language session taking place on Tuesday, May 10 from 6-7:30 pm and a Spanish language session taking place on Tuesday, May 17 at the same time.
Healing with Horses is the first in a series of Community Connection events hosted by SpeakUp ReachOut, the suicide coalition of Eagle County, to facilitate connection and shared experiences among people.
“One of the major contributors to suicide, and to mental health problems in general, is loneliness and isolation, so we are trying to combat that,” said Laura Alvarez, the program and events director at SpeakUp ReachOut. “Animals bring people together, and horses are this incredible, energetic being that you can just really relate to.”
The sessions will be led by Alecz Adams, the president and director of Equine Operations at 10th Mountain Equine. She and her team founded the nonprofit organization in 2019 with a central focus on using horse-related activities to “improve the lives of children and families in distress, improve the lives of American veterans with PTSD and similar diagnoses, and to improve the lives of people suffering from stress and anxiety related issues.”
Adams has been working professionally with horses for over 30 years, and has been providing equine-assisted therapy to veterans, children and families for over a decade. The two introductory sessions will include an explanation of the practices that she has used to help countless people relieve stress over the years, followed by a hands-on experience for each of the participants.
“People who show up, they’re not just going to be getting a lecture, they’re going to be getting actual trauma [release] so that they are going to have the physical experience of lessening the anxiety that they have around a particular circumstance of trauma that they decide that they want to work with,” Adams said. “In literally 120 seconds, we can, in certain cases, completely dissolve the anxiety related to certain traumatic events, and we can make changes that are maybe not completely resolving, but can alleviate those hugely stresses in almost every single case.”
The events will take place in a group format, with each participant getting a one-on-one session with a horse.
“One of the most amazing things about it is you don’t have to verbalize it. You can do this in front of other people,” Adams said. “You can have your experience, and you don’t have to say in front of anybody else, this is what happened to me. You can keep it private and you can still have resolution, which is totally different from a lot of other modalities.”
All of the horses at 10th Mountain Equine are rescues who, as they serve others, are simultaneously being rehabilitated and set up for adoption. Adams said that she champions a “circle of giving” approach, in which the care and healing that the horses provide to humans is given right back to them. Participants at the Healing with Horses events will also take part in this cyclical process.
“People, a lot of times, are concerned when we’re doing animal assisted therapies that they’re giving their stress to the animal, and they don’t want to do that,” Adams said. “Part of our program is that we take whatever the people may have left with the animals, and we resolve it from the animals as well.”
The modalities used at these events are designed to relieve trauma, and those with specific experiences that they are trying to release are encouraged to come with them in mind, but Alvarez emphasized that these sessions are not restricted to those who have experienced trauma.
“We’re getting a lot of questions around does it have to be someone with trauma in their past — no, it doesn’t,” Alvarez said. “This event is for really anyone who would want to be around the horses. There are going to be activities that you can do to help release trauma, or just to practice mindfulness and be around the horses in general.”
Adams plans to offer similar introductory sessions over the year, and said that she will make free sessions available for people who volunteer with the organization. She also emphasized that while horses are particularly impactful in animal-assisted therapies, household pets can be just as effective in helping to release negative emotions, and they everyday will be sharing tools for translating the practices learned into life.
“It’s not only give a man a fish, he eats for a day — it’s teach a man to fish, and he eats for a lifetime,” Adams said. “If they’re in a mindset where they can, we’re giving them the means to be able to heal themselves forever.”
Participants must be 13 years or older to take part in the Healing with Horses events. Space is limited, so all participants are required to register at SpeakupReachout.org. For more information about 10th Mountain Equine, visit 10me.org.
The next Community Connection event, Climb for Hope, will take place at Eagle Climbing + Fitness on June 4. Visit SpeakupReachout.org for more information.