Through the HopeWest Kids equine assisted counseling program, children and teens have the opportunity to work through grief in the company of horses. This seven-week program facilitated by HopeWest counselors and equine therapy volunteers, helps children build a sense of self-concept and trust, improve communication and receive tools to help manage emotions through interactive equine activities.

“The most recent group was unique because the kids actually came up with a new activity – drawing in the sand,” said Brittni Turner, Youth Counselor.  “Although this was not part of the curriculum, it allowed the kids to express their emotions through their drawings.”

In the company of their horses, kids drew images that depicted their loved one who passed away and shared the memory with the group. They also shared what it was like when they died and how they feel now.

“One child drew his picture and then the horse proceeded to walk right through his picture,” said Brittni. “The boy used this as a metaphor for his grief, depicting what life was like when his dad died and how he felt his memories had been interrupted.”

Brittni is always amazed at how the kids participating in the equine groups can transform from being quiet and reserved to outgoing and open to sharing about their grief by the final session.