JOHNSON, Vt. — Northern Vermont University-Johnson will offer a three-credit equine therapy course Aug. 2-5 that is believed to be unique in Vermont and maybe the country.
Horse trainer Tim Hayes, author of the 2015 book “Riding Home: The Power of Horses to Heal,” will teach the course, which is offered through the NVU Distance Learning Office. Equine therapy is typically used to treat post-traumatic stress disorder, autism and other challenges.
The course will include classroom instruction, one-on-one work with horses at the Center for America’s First Horse — a Johnson nonprofit that Hayes’s wife, Stephanie Lockhart, runs — and a day observing equine therapy in practice at Good Hope Farm in South Hero. Students will not ride horses, and previous equine experience is not required. The class is for people interested in pursuing a career in equine therapy or in gaining self-awareness by working with a horse.
“Horses are high-powered mirrors of human behavior. They’re the ultimate therapists,” says Hayes, who also teaches the course for traditionally enrolled NVU-Johnson students. “They’re able to make emotional breakthroughs with people, so people start to learn about themselves and start to heal.”
Hayes is a University of Vermont graduate who teaches natural horsemanship at UVM. Natural horsemanship “uses communication, understanding and compassion to control a horse” instead of force, he says.
By offering the equine therapy class through NVU’s Distance Learning Office, “I want to use the course as an opportunity for our distance-learning students to come to campus and have a face-to-face experience to really build a connection with NVU, tour the campus and meet instructors and advisers,” NVU Associate Dean of Distance Education Programs Bobbi Jo Carter says.
—Northern Vermont University-Johnson
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