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Equine therapy helping inmates at county jail

Horses helping inmates through Equine TherapyThe discussion between four inmates and a trio of therapists was about personal space. "Somebody invades my space, I hit," said one of the inmates at the Berkshire County Jail and House of Correction. "It's not allowed." At that point, "Spirit" ambled over and gently rubbed his nose against another of the inmates. Spirit, a full-grown, 1,300-pound gelding, had inserted himself into a recent equine therapy session in the Morgan Indoor Arena at the Berkshire Equine Center.
"How does this make you feel?" asked equine specialist Hayley Sumner. "Is the horse invading your space?"
"I got no problem with it," said the inmate, Tim Telo. "This is OK with me."
Telo gently pushed Spirit's nose away and the horse walked away.
The inmates were participating in six-week program by the Equine Assisted Growing and Learning Association, a national organization with more than 700 chapters that promotes and regulates equine assisted therapy. Some of the inmates asked that their names not be used.
Equine assisted therapy is a recognized treatment for a host of disorders, both emotional and physical. Clients may not necessarily ride the horses, Sumner said. Instead, the clients interact with horses and clinicians and discuss their feelings and experiences. It is not intended to replace more traditional therapies, but rather complement them.