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The first year of bringing an Equine Facilitated Learning style of being with horses to the Nez Perce community has been a great success. Many lives have been touched by the heart of the horses through LEAP (Lapwai Equine Assisted Program). So far we have brought over 68 different people from ages 6 years old to community Seniors out for sessions with the horses. We have also given presentations to the High School Equine Science class and the Boys and Girls Club. We have had displays and pictures of the horse program activities at the Women’s Health Fair, Powwows, Lapwai Days, LCSC Educational Summit, and YCEA achievement night, exposing more people to the program. We plan to have a display at the upcoming Veterans Stand Down at the Casino October 10.

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Last month in the newspaper, you learned about the benefits of the Equine Facilitated Learning way of being with horses. Now, I wanted to take some time here to offer proper thanks and gratitude for all who have made the behavioral health horse program possible this year. I want to start with a big heartfelt thank you to Donna Henry for working as a team with me since the beginning of this program idea. She suggested that we work with Chief Jospeh Foundation horses since she was familiar with them over her sixteen years of going on the Chief Joseph National Trial Ride. The program would not have happened without her gracious collaboration.

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We say Qeci ‘yew ‘yew to our Appaloosa horse teachers; Rusty, Oscar, Nike, Bodie, Tiger, Dream Girl, Nicky, Skipper, Red Rocket, Reno, and Sally for teaching us and showing us the way. We also want to extend a thank you to all the people who supported us in making the program a success this year. Bonnie Ewing and family for their cooperation and care with the horses and facility, Russ Spencer for sharing his familiarity with the land and previous CJF programs which helped with initial logistics, JR Spencer for mowing the field, and CJF board members for helping with a cleanup and setting up the round pen and water trough. Also thanks to Kim Cannon from Land Services, Kristy Kuehfuss and all the Behavioral Health staff for their moral support. It was a pleasure being with all the students, parents, and relatives who participated in LEAP sessions. Thank you everyone for being open to becoming horse-like and embracing this way of being with horses that heals the hearts of both humans and horses. We also send a big thank the to Nimiipuu Health for dedicating funds from the Meth and Suicide Prevention Grant to LEAP and to the Nez Perce Tribe for sharing grant funding from the Tribal Educational Fund towards the Behavioral Health Equine Facilitated Learning programs.

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We wrap up our sessions out on the land with the horses October 18 this year and will resume in the spring of 2014. This fall and winter we are offering visual and experiential presentations of LEAP Behavioral Health horse program for your class, community meeting, or event. In the Eponaquest model of team building, there are Leadership Training opportunities available inside without horses. These skills are easily transferable into your workplace and family life as well.

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