Finalist Q&A: Brighter Pastures

Brighter Pastures provides Equine Assisted Psychotherapy, Growth, Learning, and Education to commmunities throughout central Illinois. Their mission is to enrich the quality of lives and relationships of individuals, groups, and families by encouraging self-awareness, positive attitudes, empowerment, self-esteem, life-skills, emotional healing, and personal growth through experiential learning in partnership with horses.

How did you come up with the idea for your business, and what, or who, is your main source of motivation?

I have always had a passion for horses and children. The well-being of children is something I take very seriously. I received my Associates Degree in Early Childhood Education and taught preschool for eight years. I also received a B.S. and M.S. in Equine Science with a specialization in Equine Reproductive Physiology. During the past 20 years, I have had the great pleasure to introduce horses to hundreds of children and adults via educational clinics and riding instruction.

I have been blessed to see horses change the lives of many, many people. I have seen a woman with severe depression get out of bed for the first time in 2 weeks to come and visit her lesson horse. I have seen teenagers with anxieties and social stress overcome their fears by working with horses to achieve certain goals. I have seen a group of children diagnosed with ADD/ADHD learn how to focus, stay calm, and work together as a group to groom, walk, and saddle horses to ride. I have seen a group of withdrawn sexually abused girls become confident, nurturing, and trusting as they work with abused horses to build healthy boundaries, trust, and respect. My motivation to build Brighter Pastures came from seeing clients of all ages and backgrounds motivated by the guidance, acceptance, and love of a horse to grow and develop into happier, healthier, more peaceful and positive, and more loving people.

Brighter Pastures was formed with the mission to enrich the quality of lives and relationships of individuals, groups, and families by encouraging self-awareness, positive attitudes, empowerment, self-esteem, life-skills, emotional healing, and personal growth through experiential learning in partnership with horses. Brighter Pastures is non-discriminatory on the basis of race, creed, color, gender, age, religion, or economic status. Our vision is to utilize the majestic presence of the horse to empower all clients we serve by using creative and innovative equine therapies therefore becoming a recognized facility of excellence in equine-assisted activities that offers the needed programs for individuals, groups, and families to benefit our community and provide hope for a brighter tomorrow. Our goal is to help those we serve achieve improved confidence, self-esteem, respect, trust in self, communication, and problem-solving skills therefore enhancing their productivity and success within their home, school, work, and community.

What is a unique feature of your business?
Brighter Pastures is unique in the services it offers. Equine Assisted Psychotherapy, Growth, and Learning are experience-based therapies helping people find success in their daily lives. Under the guidance of highly trained horse professionals and often in combination with trained counselors, mental-health providers, and/or social workers, Brighter Pastures uses proven experience-based interactions with horses to foster behavioral, social, emotional, spiritual, and psychological growth.

The benefits of Equine Assisted Therapies are astounding and are becoming well-
documented throughout the world.

Benefits include:

* Self Reflection and Evaluation
* Self Esteem and Confidence
* Communication
* Empowerment
* Positive Attitudes
* Cooperation and Teamwork
* Relationship-Building Skills
* Boundaries-setting
* Respect and Empathy for others
* Leadership and other Life Skills
* Self-Discipline and Responsibility
* Problem-Solving Skills

Brighter Pastures offers its services to all children, adults, families, and groups. Our
services include:

* Equine Assisted Psychotherapy in which a therapeutic program is developed between a mental-health provider and an equine specialist utilizing horses to address specific treatment goals. Equine Assisted Psychotherapy sessions may include individuals, families, and/or groups. Our services provide therapy to a wide range of mental health problems including: depression, eating disorders, substance abuse, anxiety and social interaction disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, and others.

* Equine Assisted Learning in which horses and humans are paired in a way that provides thought-provoking metaphoric interactions. These interactions are used to promote an exploration of behaviors and feelings while teaching healthy life skills. Equine Assisted Learning includes: parenting workshops, marriage and family workshops, personal growth and development workshops, spiritual exploration workshops, corporate growth and team building workshops, school programs, children's groups, and more.

* Equine Assisted Education provides a number of opportunities to learn about horses and the opportunities they provide. Educational clinics and workshops include: Horsemanship, Equine Science and Management, Equine Behavior, History and Uses of Horses, Using Horses as a mode of Therapy, Centered/Balanced Riding, and more.

* Equine Assisted Growth provides interaction with horses in a way that promotes emotional healing and growth. Equine Assisted Growth is extremely beneficial to those who have experienced or are currently experiencing grief, trauma, abuse, life-threatening illnesses, physical disabilities, ADD/ADHD, and Autism-spectrum disorders. Our program encourages individuals to interact with horses in a way that teaches: trust, empathy, communication, and respect.

What are your thoughts on the connection between small business and the local community?
I believe that small grass-roots businesses are the heart of every community. Small businesses, created by innovation, produce more resilient and diverse local economies. Brighter Pastures was build on these beliefs and is reflected in our mission statement and overall goals.

Why should the Idea Cafe regulars vote for you?
Brighter Pastures is currently working to change the lives of hundreds of people throughout central Illinois. If we win the Idea Cafe Grant, we will be able to start a new program for Suicide Prevention. We will be able to team up with our local hospitals and support groups to provide an equine assisted counseling program for youth that are at risk for suicidal and self-harming behaviors.

One of the leading causes of death amongst teenagers is suicide. The Centers for Disease control report that it is the third leading cause of death, behind accidents and homicide, of people aged 15 to 24. Even more disturbing is the fact that suicide is the fourth leading cause of death for children between the ages of 10 and 14. Teen suicide is a very real issue today in the United States. It is important to recognize the fact that the suicide rate amongst teenagers is on the rise. In order to prevent teen suicide, it is vital to recognize what leads to it, and then treat the causes. Horses at Brighter Pastures will bring profound realizations and therapeutic treatments providing a new outlook on the lives of many teens.

By voting for Brighter Pastures, you are choosing to help save the lives of these youth. We sincerely thank you for taking the time to learn more about who we are and who we serve. Our great appreciation goes to Idea Cafe for choosing us as one of the finalists.


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