It was damp and cold on the farm today, signs that autumn is really here. The minis ran and bucked in the distance, and Hitch the Wanderer moseyed into the barn looking for mischief. Aries the tuxedo cat helped himself to Alison Appleby’s lunch, and when the rain increased, we all braced against it. But something quite exciting happened. When I sat down to talk with Alison about her new role at 13 Hands and all she envisions for the rescues—and for you—the bite in the air disappeared.
Do you know Alison Appleby? If not, I hope you’ll consider this an invitation to meet and get to know her. A social worker by trade, Alison is now leading the Equine E-mmersion Program at 13 Hands. Veteran teacher and volunteer Angela Zappavigna designed this program based on the many requests we receive for more information, more opportunities to visit, more time with the herd. Rooted in the belief that animals can be conduits for personal healing and growth, the program’s primary goal is simple: to provide opportunities for people to immerse themselves in a positive equine experience.
In addition, this program has been reviewed by 13 Hands board member and equine therapy leader, Dr. Glenn Albright, who states clearly that this program is not therapy, and participants are not under the care of medical professionals. It’s simply a great opportunity to connect with horses.
In our conversation, Alison brought up the stress and isolation that the pandemic brought on for so many of us. She sees contact with the horses as a way to connect. While her background in social work fortifies her belief in this approach, she wants you to know she is not practicing therapy. Instead, she sees herself as a facilitator.
Alison and I also talked about visitors who are not looking for personal healing but come to learn about herd dynamics, about horse care, about donkey and mule behavior—who simply want to be exposed to resilient, rescued equines in a breathtaking, hilltop setting. Yes, all participants are welcome. Alison will shape your immersion to meet what you’re hoping to experience.
13 Hands already has several regular E-mmersion participants, and Alison is hoping to grow the program in the coming months. After all, the horses and other equines benefit from the attention they get from visitors, making this program a win for everyone. Just ask Nick, the donkey, and minis, Duke and Lenny. Also full-size guys, Blue Moon, Hitch, and Big Mac. These lucky rescues are already showing signs that their regular sessions are a boon for them, fostering their confidence, as well as their trust in humans. Alison believes that as more participants join her, even more animals will reap the rewards.
Here’s what you need to know about the Equine E-mmersion Program at 13 Hands:
- Anyone can sign up. Just email the staff at firstname.lastname@example.org get started or to ask a question.
- Alison will design your session based on what you want to get out of your time here. Your fee/donation will be agreed on, and waivers will be signed.
- This experience can be as hands-on as you’d like it to be. Sit and study the herds? Definitely. Groom them, lead them, and get in some rescue-hugs? Absolutely.
- Sessions generally last 30 minutes to one hour, depending on your request.
- You’re welcome to come alone or in a group. (Consider coming with your family, your department at work, your support group, your sports team, etc.)
- Each attendee must sign a waiver in order to participate.
- You can come once or regularly. It’s all up to you.
- Fees vary. We will work with you to determine the fee for your session(s). Your fee is a donation to 13 Hands.
- While your visit(s) may be therapeutic, the Equine E-mmersion Program is not therapy. If you are in need of mental health counseling, please contact your healthcare professional for a referral to a mental health provider.
Email 13 Hands at email@example.com to begin shaping your equine experience.
If you happen to come on a cold day, I promise, you’ll leave feeling warmer.
My best to you all,