Rescued horses return favor

Think about the word stable, and two definitions might come to mind. The first is a structure that houses domestic animals where they are fed and taken care of. The second describes someone who is unlikely to change; someone who is sane and sensible " not easily upset or disturbed.

At Peaceful Acres, horses provide humans with a greater sense of stability through various therapies and exercises. While the idea of combining therapy for humans with activities that revolve around horses -- taking care of them, riding them -- may seem unusual, the owner of Peaceful Acres, Nanci Beyeri, said the benefits are real.

"We have 20 social workers that have four legs and eat an awful lot of hay and grain every day," said Beyeri.

Peaceful Acres moved to its site in Pattersonville four years ago. With ample acreage, a barn and an indoor arena, Beyeri knew she wanted to make the space into a boarding, lesson and training facility, but the idea to incorporate Equine Assisted Therapy took a couple of months to come up with. After her idea's inception, Beyeri went on to receive her master's degree in social work, and then got certified by the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association in equine-assisted psychotherapy.

"We complement what therapists do in an office, but we also bring a therapeutic treatment modality into the farm because we are clinicians," said Beyeri.

Beyeri's social workers are the horses, ponies and donkeys she and her team of volunteers rescued from around the area. After the animals are stabilized emotionally and physically, they act as guides for emotional growth and wellness of others. Peaceful Acres serves young people and families in need; children and adults with mental disabilities; and young people and women with adjustment disorders and family and peer issues.

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