Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Katie Ryan, Author & Equine Assisted Therapist

From California, USA, Katie Ryan is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Equine Assisted Therapist. The author of Horse Wisdom Alchemy, Katie’s memoir is the result of nearly 100 years of horses and equine-assisted therapies. She relates that ‘horses have the ability to mirror emotions.’

Katie is also a co-proprietor of Strides-Wellness, an equine-assisted psychotherapy program that helps people through horses.

A new Documentary about cowboy singer Don Edwards in the works, Katie fills the role of film producer, and so much more…

When was your first encounter with a horse?
My first encounter with a horse was probably at birth; however the one I remember is also a chapter in my book called Rocket's Red Glare. Rocket was a Shetland pony that I got to ride on our Saturday morning rides. I think I was about 4. He moved very fast (like a rocket) and I found myself gasping for air after falling off of him several times because he was trying to keep up with the BIG horses.

Do you prefer one horse breed over another?
I do not prefer one breed over another but I do like Quarter Horses because that's what I grew up with.

What is the premise for Horse Wisdom Alchemy?
The premise for Horse Wisdom Alchemy is this: It is a memoir of nearly 100 years of horses in my family. My father was a small town Sheriff and farmer who rode the Continental Divide riding and packing. I carried on the tradition of an obsession for horses including being able to use them in my psychotherapy practice.

What role do horses play in your psychotherapy sessions?
Horses play the role of part of the treatment team in psychotherapy and learning. They have the ability to mirror people which then becomes a metaphor for what may be happening in their lives and work.

What qualities do you look for when bringing a new horse into your program?
The qualities we look for in the horses in the program are animals who don't bite or kick but are able to just BE horses. So therefore since there is no riding involved they can be old, fat, blind, lame etc.

Can you share a favorite horse-related anecdote?
In one session with a mother and daughter, my quarter horse Shiloh pinned his ears back and started chasing the mare around the arena at a fast clip. He had never pinned his ears back for anything. When we asked the Mother what could be happening she said, "That's my anger, it comes out of nowhere." (A great example of horse mirroring).

You are producing a Documentary on the life of cowboy singer Don Edwards. What can we expect?
The Documentary of Don Edwards, the cowboy singer will begin filming at the end of January in Elko, Nevada at the National Cowboy Poetry festival. We are hoping to introduce people to the world of authentic cowboy music through the music of Don Edwards. We are inspired by Don and want to document his life and music one song at a time. We are hoping to be finished by next summer or fall.

What does horsemanship mean to you?
Horsemanship means having a relationship with horses that allows mutual respect.

Connect with Katie…

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