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Horse therapy helping women in prison find new roads

Horse therapy helping women in prison find new roadsOn a recent fall morning, four women inmates from Chester County Prison entered an indoor arena at the Thorncroft Equestrian Center and began to meet the duo who have been helping them navigate their way toward success outside of the prison walls. But Jubilee and Mia are not your traditional counselors or social workers. Rather, they are the horses the quartet have come to know while engaging in equine therapy at the center outside Malvern, a developing part of the county’s acclaimed Women’s Re-entry Assessment and Programming initiative.
The inmates, under the supervision of human therapists and a probation officer, engage the horses in narrative exercises that are meant to help them deal with the obstacles that have kept them revolving through the doors of prisons as they try to deal with the underlying traumas, anxieties, and addictions that contribute to their criminal histories.
The intent of the equine Stable Pathways program, funded by local nonprofit organizations but run by the county’s Adult Probation Department, is ultimately to help the women conquer the cycle of dysfunction that has led to their recidivism. Staying out of jail becomes an attainable goal, they learn, as they find themselves able to face the root causes of their bad behavior.