Organizational History & Program Overview
Horse Time was founded in 1996 by a group of individuals committed to the belief that horse-human interactions can provide the basis for uniquely effective mental health treatment. The program opened August 18, 1997 on the grounds of Falconwood Farm, owned and operated by the Faulkner family, in Covington, Georgia. 501 (c ) 3 nonprofit status was attained in early 1998. Since that time, Horse Time has served hundreds of children, adolescents, and adults with a variety of psychosocial and behavioral challenges in individual and group psychotherapy and in therapeutic horsemanship lessons. Our clients have come to us through residential treatment programs, day treatment programs, mental health centers, pediatrician’s offices, schools, and self-referral throughout the Greater Atlanta area.
Therapeutic horsemanship at Horse Time is simply providing a horsemanship lesson to individuals and groups with special needs while modifying the lesson to accommodate the special need. The lesson may include grooming, horse handling and care, barn management (such as stall or tack cleaning; feeding), learning about horse behavior such as body language and herd behavior, or mounted activities such as riding and vaulting (gymnastics on the back of a horse). Horse Time integrates psychosocial and behavioral goal achievement into the lessons as desired and appropriate (such as self-esteem, body awareness, social skills).
While an equine-facilitated psychotherapy (EFP) session may look just like a therapeutic horsemanship session as far as the physical activities involved, the two are very different. A client participating in EFP is working on the achievement of measurable psychosocial and behavioral goals specified in their treatment plan. The sessions are facilitated by a licensed, credentialed mental health professional and specially trained assistants. Working with the horses is a special tool utilized by these trained therapists to meet the needs of clients desiring and/or needing an experiential treatment approach.
Hippotherapy has recently been added to our menu of services at Horse Time. Please see detailed information, below, for an explanation of this uniquely effective form of treatment.
Special needs served at Horse Time have included cerebral palsy, acquired brain injuries, Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome, Down’s Syndrome, Fragile X syndrome, and a variety of other developmental, anxiety, behavioral, mood, psychotic, and substance abuse disorders. Additionally, we have worked with clients with gender identity issues, abuse histories, and eating disorders. Typically, the youngest age we can work with in psychotherapy is 4 years old, with therapeutic riding generally requiring participants who are at least 5 or 6 years old. There is no age maximum.
Horse Time is accredited by PATH, the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International. Our instructors are certified by PATH, and our therapists are all licensed and credentialed to independently practice in the state of Georgia. The program is insured through PATH as well.
Precautions and Contraindications for EFP (psychotherapy)
While equine-facilitated psychotherapy is not appropriate for everyone, there are a wide variety of psychosocial needs and mental health disorders that are amenable to this type of treatment. Horse Time follows the guidelines of the Professional Asociation of Therapeutic Horsemanship International, which state that certain conditions preclude safe participation in equine experiences and that others must be handled with caution. To that end, clients who are dangerous to themselves or others are not appropriate for participation. Similarly, clients who are experiencing perceptual impairment (such as severe psychosis or dissociation) or intoxication may not participate. Horse Time screens for a number of medical conditions such as severe, uncontrolled seizures that preclude safe participation and performs a thorough intake assessment to ensure that we can help clients achieve clinical goals. Because it is an experiential program that operates part-time at a horse farm, Horse Time is not appropriate as a primary mental health resource for clients in crisis and requiring 24-hour access to care.