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Rescued horses return favor

"Sometimes some clients, depending on their age and their diagnosis, don't do as well in traditional talk therapy alone, so you introduce a program like this," said Beyeri.

Through interacting with the horses in a variety of ways in single or group sessions, clients learn to care for the horses, communicate with them and ride, although 90 percent of the work is done on the ground. Clients also participate in farm work. Beyeri believes these activities, combined with therapy, are effective.

"We're [seeing] a reduction in reactivity, impulsivity, anxiety and depression," said Beyeri. "We're seeing improvement in communication, focus, self-esteem, socialization, peer relations and social settings and problem solving [in our clients]."

Peaceful Acres offers a variety of programs six days a week, including weekend retreats for women and summer and after-school programs for children and is almost entirely volunteer-run.

"We have lots of young volunteers, but we would love to have some older adult volunteers. We need them especially now in the winter time -- horses need a lot of care, stalls need to be cleaned, feeding needs to be done, the barn needs to be kept as neat as possible," said Carole McArdle, volunteer coordinator for Peaceful Acres.

Overhead for keeping the farm running and the animals cared for is high, and with the economy on hard times, Beyeri says that this is the toughest two months she's ever seen. Even though the farm is given donations, such as food from Nutrena, monetary donations are only trickling in, and Beyeri said she is concerned for the months ahead.

"The problem is that now because of the economy, we have so many of these young people that are being told that they can't continue the program because there's no funding, and that's when they start to escalate because they feel like they're going to lose someplace that has become stable for them," said Beyeri.""

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