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Healing Through Horsemanship

Simply Equine Assisted Therapy helps youth and adults alike

Horses are intuitive. Horses have superpower. Interaction with them releases serotonin in the human brain, and when that horse/human interaction occurs it’s great for depression, anxiety, and a host of other maladies.

“Horses automatically know what’s going on. They feel what you feel and often know what’s going on with you before you know!” Lisa Jegen, founder and owner of Simply Equine Assisted Therapy, says. “I can tell my clients what the horse is telling me through body language, and their verbal signs.”

Jegen began her therapy equine program in 2001, when she opened on the campus of Seasons Care Center at 15600 Woods Chapel Road. She was approached by Kenny Blom, who had started the Alzheimer’s and dementia unit there. 

“He knew I was a fifth-generation equestrian and asked me what I thought of using some of the land to see if horses could benefit the residents,” she says. “I researched and discovered that equine assisted psychotherapy could definitely help them!

I am a product of equine psychotherapy and know firsthand how horses can benefit mental health. I am now a certified equine specialist, and we began the program.”

The program worked so well that they decided to open it to everyone, not just exclusively Seasons Care residents. They are now a 501c3 nonprofit organization and currently have a capital campaign to make improvements on the property.

They turn away no one. This is a strictly mental health program, and Jegen works with children from all different walks of life who have autism, are in the foster system or have been taken away from their parents and put in a different environment. The children are referred to her by therapists, teachers, pastors, coaches, next door neighbors, family members and caregivers.

“I offer these children a safe environment that takes them out of their element they are used to and to be honest, a lot of these kids are living in homes they have no control over,” she continues. “I put them into an environment with nature, horses and instructors of life skills. Those instructors of life skills have been exactly where our client is now. They are only a couple steps ahead of them. The reason all our instructors need to come from that background is because we want them to empathize with the client. I want them to know those feelings and experience those feelings so they can validate. It’s important for people’s feelings to be validated.”

 She teaches kids and adults the equine way, where every day of your life you have self-confidence, self-worth with a bit of self-deprecation without giving up any self-respect. They are now on their second generation, and parents she worked with are now bringing their own children to her. Jegen says that’s the best part of her job, knowing she did some good and the children grew up to be healthy adults.

     “We want to spread the word here that horses help people. We are here for people to enjoy horses, even if that means coming up to the fence to pet our horses. That five minutes might give you incentive to finish the rest of your day with a positive attitude,” she smiles.

She offers programs for adults suffering from PTSD, ADHD, abuse, depression, anxiety and more. One such event is the spa days she puts on. People get a garden hose, wet down the horses and wash their tails and manes with products such as Nexxus and Paul Mitchell, donated by one of their members. They braid the horses’ mains and even paint their hooves. Horses and humans love this on hot summer days!

The Mount Up program is for people who are already horse people. They can grab a horse and spend time with them. They come for stress relief, self-reflection, decision making assistance, exercise, health care and fun.

“Horses bring clarity,” says Jegen.

Jegen is from the Kansas City area, and her father was a horse trainer. She was on a horse at six months old, riding by herself by the age of two, showing horses at age six and training them at age eight.

“I think what makes our program unique is that it is specialized. Horses are intuitive and so am I. All I want to do is make sure every person in my community who wants to listen, can understand the power horses can have in a human’s life. How they change your perception and way of thinking, take all the negativity away and bring in positiveness so you can have a healthy life,” she says.

They have 11 acres, five of which are used for equestrian programs. She likes to take people to ride at other locations, such as Monkey Mountain, Blue and Gray Park and James A. Reed wildlife center. Currently they have six horses, with more on the way.

One example of success she shared involved a nine-year-old boy: When he was three, he was on our racehorse we had. He had no respect for anybody when his mom brought him to me. This horse changed him, and he turned into a fine young man and doesn’t get kicked out of school anymore! He learned that disrespecting, confusing, hurting a horse or being angry and yelling at them, means you’re going to get a response just like you will from a human. When it comes from a horse you tend to listen!

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  • Photo provided by Simply Equine
  • Photo provided by Simply Equine
  • Photo provided by Simply Equine
  • Photo provided by Simply Equine