Nature and Nurture: How Equine Therapy & Nature Can Help the Whole Family

angie-spiersDr. Angie Spiers and her associate Stacy Springston, run a traditional counseling practice, Stable Wellness Center, with an office in Hamburg.

But it’s their second location that makes this practice unique and ground-breaking in Lexington.

Stable Meadows Life Enrichment Center is a 10-acre farm on Jacks Creek Pike in southeastern Lexington that offers an equine assisted therapy setting.

Spiers is a transplanted Canadian who became an equestrian as an adult, learning to ride and train with natural horsemanship techniques.

The inspiration for the Enrichment Center came from Spiers’ children who flourished when they interacted with the horses, animals and the land.

“I saw the difference in my own kids and knew this setting could help others,” Spiers said.

Spiers was certified in Canada by the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association and embraced the eco-psychology movement, which holds that children who are isolated from the outdoors and free play suffer from what some call “nature deficit.”

The therapy at Stable Meadows goes far beyond just communing with nature.

As a professional therapist, Spiers works with families in transition, military families and pained adolescents.

Often, an agriculture setting can re-engage those who have “checked out of traditional therapy,” Spiers said.

“This setting is not for everyone but it can work, particularly with adolescents who have been stigmatized and don’t want to just talk feelings.”

To introduce the practice to the Bluegrass, Spiers and Springston have scheduled workshops and camps at Stable Meadows in July, including a Healthy Bodies Camp for girls 8-13 (July 21-25, July 28-Aug. 1). A similar camp for teen boys and girls is Aug. 5-8.

These camps focus on positive body image, mindful eating plus food instruction, using the farm as an education tool.

Other workshops include Earth Mothers and Divine Daughters for moms and girls 8-13. A Chillin’ Children class for the same age group works to reduce stress and increase focus.

The Bully in the Barn workshop is an anti-bullying class.

“Our mantra is prevention and support instead of crisis management,” Spiers said. “Not that we don’t deal in crisis management, but if we can help develop tools for mental health and healthy body image, then we have done our jobs.”