UNICORNS PROGRAM started in Hawaii in 1980. It relocated to Oregon in 1990, and has been active here ever since. The program was developed on the foundation of data, indicating that animals and humans have a special relationship, which was found to be beneficial in developing better ability to communicate, learn coping skills, acquire confidence, learn to relax and build better self esteem. Introducing pets to long term care centers, people with physical or behavioral (such as prison inmates) issues has been shown to have positive effects. Children particularly benefit whether they are involved individually or in a horse program.
For the mounted part of the program we can accept only pre-teen children due to taking in consideration the well-being of the horses. Each horse has a weight limit it can carry.
Program activities are aimed at improving confidence, coordination, ability to focus on a task and stay with it, and other important daily life skills, such as not giving up and always trying your best, taking both winning and losing in stride. Art and music are also used as means of self-expression and communication. Participants learn to reconnect with nature, acquire a more active lifestyle after contracting video games and computer addictions or “couch potato” lifestyle.
Participants learn about horses, including how to properly groom, tack, ride and control a horse. Interaction with a horse helps to provide students with a bonding experience. They learn how to make a “friend”, and this ability can then be transferred to people. Relaxed by their gentle “friends”, the students become more open and spontaneous, sharing information and feelings about family, school and different issues. In cases, where the program participant is also seen by a therapist, the information, with parent and child’s permission, is shared with the referring therapist.
Essential for group and individual activities are the “sidewalkers.” These volunteers watch out for the student’s safety, help plan sessions and observe changes in students to help evaluate the effectiveness of the program. Older students or the family members can become “sidewalkers”, an arrangement that benefits them both.
For more information we encourage you to read HORSE FACILITATED THERAPY book, available on amazon.com. Or you may order a hard copy from us. Please visit our BOOKS page to find a full list of books we offer with descriptions.