Mid-South group uses horses as youth therapy

Mid-South group uses horses as youth therapy

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A Mid-South group is taking a unique approach when it comes to therapy with troubled youth, and it involves horses.

"We're able to see tremendous gains in their goals that you don't see in traditional therapeutic settings," Courtney Smith with Southern Reins, said.

The Southern Reins Equine Therapy Center is partnering with Youth Villages for the six-week pilot program.

They're working on a variety of skills like building trust, nonverbal communication, and boundaries.

"We work with physical needs, cognitive needs, and emotional needs," Smith said.

The kids learn to interact and care for the horses by small things like brushing them.

Alaina McIntire, a recreational therapist with Youth Villages, said she's already seen improvement in the kids.

"The first week when we came here, the youth were very excitable, very unfocused because there was a whole lot to see, a whole lot going on that was great. Now they come in, they're very focused, they have very effective discussions about what is relationships, what is leadership," McIntire said.

Some of the horses are on their second and third careers, and the therapists said it's not just therapeutic for the participants, but also for the horses.

"The horses love the interaction. You can tell when they come to the stall. They greet you, they lower their head," Smith said.

Equine Therapy instructors like to joke that horses make everything better, but they tell me the goal is simple.

"We want whatever they learn here to be transferred into other settings and environments," Smith said.

Copyright 2018 WMC Action News 5. All rights reserved.