One woman in Eastman is using her love for horses to help heal and inspire others.
Carol Lowery and her husband Wendell operate Fallen Star Ranch, where they raise miniature horses and take some of them out into the community. Carol Lowery says, "a lot of time when I would get off work I would come home and just use the horses to put things back into a perspective." But she says it's her partnership with the community that brings her the most joy.
Lowery's herd is part of Camp Good Grief, a summer program in Eastman that helps children cope with the loss of a loved one, or a difficult lifestyle change. Dora Parks, volunteer coordinator for Hospice Care Options which runs the camp, says "you can put a lot of confidence into the animal, to talk to and to cry to. To be able to know that you're going to be loved unconditionally by the animal."
Parks says equine therapy gives kids a chance to open up in a way they can't with other people. She says, "pets aren't going to tell anybody what they've told them." Eight-year-old Caitlin Williams attended Camp Good Grief. She loves to brush the horse's mane, and her mom Lynn Peacock says she's seen more than miniature results. Peacock says, "she really learned a lot of strategies to help cope with the divorce and then the loss of her grandmother and she realized it's okay to cry and to have feelings." She says, "the main thing I see is she needs to feel like she's taking care of something, and she's important and there's more out there, and that she'll be okay regardless of what happens."
Carol Lowery says its the horse's size and calm nature that makes is good for therapy with kids. She says, "I find that they'll come up to a small child and be gentler with the child than they will with an adult, so I think it's their personality that sort of wins you over."
Carol Lowery understands forming that close connection with their four legged friends. She says, "I know what satisfaction and assistance I got emotionally from interacting with the horses, and so I enjoy seeing someone else get the same benefits and I enjoy seeing the kids. The kids enjoy it but I don't think they enjoy it any more than my husband and I." So she says she'll continue to share her passion, with others who need it most.
The Lowerys have about 100 miniature horses at Fallen Star Ranch in Dodge County. Carol Lowery says the horses involved in equine therapy do not need special training, but she did take a course on animal assisted therapy. She also works as a critical care nurse. Camp Good Grief runs for three days during the summer at South Dodge Elementary School. Dora Parks says last year, 64 kids ages six to 14 participated in the camp.