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Help young women overcome a past of tragedy and access a future full of possibility.


Equine Therapy

Thanks for Giving

One more 10-week session of the Kingery Equine Therapy Program will be added thanks to the generosity of many community members. THANK YOU! To continue more sessions throughout the summer, Excelsior requests further financial support from YOU. It costs $250 per girl, per 10-week session. Can you help? If so, please go to Donate Now and specify your donation is for Equine Therapy. We understand you have many charitable choices and please know how much we appreciate your support.

Equine Therapy Transforms Excelsior Girl

Seventeen-year-old Lauren from Palm Dale, Calif. had been through six failed foster/adopt homes before being adopted by her current family at the age of 3. Although she has a family, Lauren she says she felt alone and unloved. At age 11, Lauren started acting with defiance, truancy and, most dangerously, self abuse.

It wasn't until she came to Excelsior Youth Center last fall that she realized the severity of her troubles. And it wasn't till she met Macho that she was able to start coping with her problems and trusting herself.

But Macho isn't her counselor or her therapist. He is a giant horse who lives in Perry Park in Parker, Colo.

Lauren, along with 18 other Excelsior girls, is participating in a 10-week Kingery Equine Therapy Program. Founded 12 years ago, the program takes the girls to Terry Draper's Perry Park Ranch once a week for a half-day outing. The girls are paired with a horse and are taught how to guide, care for and groom the animal. Effective communication with a horse involves patience, understanding, attention, forgiveness and consistency – skills that Excelsior students often lack.

After just three equine sessions, Lauren has started to form a unique relationship with her horse, helping to increase her confidence and self-esteem. She has also developed a sense of trust, responsibility and better coping skills.

"Just yesterday I reacted very differently when I thought some girls were mistreating me, " Lauren said. "Instead of fighting with them or hurting myself, I thought of what I learned at equine. I talked to a supervisor to get assistance. Equine has taught me to gain control of my emotions. When dealing with horses, you can get hurt if you react the wrong way and that's true in life, too."

Other Excelsior equine therapy students are feeling the power of the program. One student who was physically abused as a young girl and now battles a physical illness, credits much of her recovery to equine therapy.

"As I was riding that glorious day, it was like something snapped," she said. "Emotional and physical walls began to come down. I wanted to laugh, cry, and shout for joy all at the same time. It was truly a miracle. I began to regain my self-esteem and self-confidence."

Both she and Lauren continue to make progress at Excelsior. Lauren hopes to return home after a year and study fashion design at the San Diego Fashion Institute.

"At first, I was skeptical of the therapeutic effects of equine," said Mike Pisney, Lauren's therapist at Excelsior. "But now, I'm convinced and a real advocate. Through the horses, we're seeing the girls' challenges and then how to fix or correct it in real life, too. It's amazing to witness their progress and there are lots of smiles on the outings."

Sadly, unless Excelsior receives outside financial assistance, the equine therapy program will be suspended after Lauren's session. With the current economic uncertainty, Excelsior must cut back on additional therapeutic activities despite their success. It costs Excelsior $250 per girl, per session for the program. Can you help?

If so, please go to DONATE NOW and fill out the form or call Kathy Graveley at 303-693-1550x226. Thank you for helping us enhance appropriate social behaviors for our troubled girls by funding our therapeutic riding program.