Spring is here (and it brought a little snow too)!  

Here at the THS farm, the impact of setting our clocks forward has had a pretty powerful impact.  Although the weather is chilly, with 8 inches of snow on the ground as I write this post, the shift in daylight has brightened the feel of the days immeasurably.  We are now enjoying the sunset long after feeding is done and there is abundant light to enjoy the peace that falls over the herd once their buckets are empty. It is amazing what a little change of perspective can do!  

“Sometimes we can’t see the forest for the trees” – Renaissance proverb  

Today I’d like to share a different perspective on the farm at Therapeutic Horses of Saratoga, with a bit of distance – like zooming out the camera lens – to better see the “forest” of the farm and a little less of the “trees”.  To do this, I’ll paint a little picture with words of a view I recently enjoyed while sitting in one of the offices at ECS.  

Setting the scene.  

To start this little word-painting, let me identify a couple key elements in the composition: the ECS offices and the THS offices.  

What is ECS? ECS Psychological Services (ECS for short) is the organization that partners with Therapeutic Horses of Saratoga to provide the essential mental health expertise within our services to the community.  ECS is a private practice, founded in 2005 by Dr. Erin Christopher Sisk, with a focus on providing a caring and supportive environment that personalizes the treatment to their clients’ needs.  The licensed psychologists, clinical social workers and mental health counselors of ECS walk side by side with our THS horses and Equine Specialists to deliver the Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP is the acronym) at the heart of our work. Together on the farm, the ECS and THS staff provide the safe and supportive environment where horse-human connections can take place  

The ECS offices are located in the white house at the top of the hill on the farm. This is the first building that you see, straight ahead, when you pull in the driveway. Each day, ECS therapists walk out of the carved wooden door of the house with their clients, down the back of the hill, to meet one of the THS Equine Specialists at the THS offices. Together, the three of them will walk out to one of the paddocks where their session will take place.  

Where are the THS offices? The THS offices are inside the big red building attached to the Cherry Tree Arena and the barn, which sits on the far side of the hill where the ECS offices are located. Although our building is fairly large, it is completely hidden from the road (Rt 29) by the hill. The result is that most of our visitors are completely surprised when they take the right at the fork in the driveway, come around the bend, and discover our big and bustling home base. 

Back to the forest…  

For the team at THS, we often walk up the hill for internal meetings or to participate in calls when we need a bit of quiet away from the bustle, barking and constant collaboration that is the heartbeat of the THS offices.  As I was sitting in one of these offices this past week, looking out the window after wrapping up an interactive informational call with the wonderful women of Brown Road Racing, I was inspired to share my view from atop the hill, looking North, out the window and out over the 27 acres and 29 horses on the THS farm. How tranquil it all looked from up on the hill!  

While there is a joyful buzz of energy in the THS offices (the “hive” I described in an earlier post), there is something powerfully peaceful about seeing the farm from above. Much like that feeling you have when you look out the window of an airplane and see all the neat and tidy squares that mark the patchwork quilt of farmland, it is amazing how orderly and calm everything looks when you step back a bit.   

With a bit of distance, I find the farm grows bigger as you see all the paddocks connected to one another and as the fences fade against the background of the winter landscape. The horses, while content within their individual spaces, are united as one herd from this vantage on the hill. Seen as one, they convene in smaller groupings around hay bales or dozing in the sunshine with one horse always alert on behalf of the herd. The voices of the people and dogs on the farm become muted, the engine sounds of the THS bobcat and gator fade into the background, and the sky, the birds and the treeline around the property emerge as the frame around the peaceful scene of equine sanctuary. There is a powerful calm, much like the feeling you have as you stand on the beach, that comes from looking out over a herd of 29 happy horses who are loved, cared for and at peace. This, then, is the view of the forest, achieved by gently turning down the volume on the individual trees. It is truly a gift to realize how much we can change the “feel” of the scene, by simply stepping away (or above) and changing one’s perspective.  

With new eyes… you see new things! 

Set upon this tableau of nature and contentment, my eye was caught by the quiet movements of three people in a far pasture. Like a Hudson River School landscape painting, the humans looked small against the bigger scene and their motions so subtle that they were easy to miss. These people were participating in an Equine Assisted Psychotherapy session. Wearing boots for the mud and parkas for the cold, they stood inside the pasture with three horses. One person (client) was gently stroking the neck of one of the horses, he was looking toward the second person (clinician), while the third stood by, still and attentive, as an observer (equine specialist). 

From afar, they seemed like motionless figures, but by tuning my senses to the “energy setting”, I believed that I could feel the warmth of the connection between these four creatures (three human and one equine). Without (many) words, communication, energy and emotion was being exchanged within the circuit of these four creatures. Looking out over the farm, I was certain that I could feel the magic of that connection like a warm glow of a fireplace on a wintery day.   

I recognize this last part might be a stretch for those who haven’t witnessed or experienced a horse-human connection for themselves, but I am hopeful that my “picture with words” might be just enough to pique your interest to learn more. Thanks for sticking with me!  

The mission of Therapeutic Horses of Saratoga is to care for our horses and to share the amazing gift of healing that our horses can provide to our community – and all are welcome (by appointment, that is!). We believe that horses simply make people’s lives better. As I close out this post, I hope you might consider experiencing this magic for yourself, through an Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy session; by scheduling a Horse Play session for your and/or your family; or by exploring a Teambuilding or Group event at the farm.  Our horses would love to meet you! 

To learn more about these options, or to learn more, feel welcome to contact our team – we’d love to introduce you to our herd!  

Be well. Be kind. Shine brightly!