BY CHERESE COBB, FREELANCER

You thought Marco Polo was well-traveled? You ain’t seen nothin’ yet. From Caracas to Tasmania, these Instafamous pets capture the spirit of adventure—follow them now.

1. Miami@miami_traveller_dog

Miami is one of the world’s most jet-setting pets. “He’s an unusual Chihuahua because he’s sweet and friendly with everyone,” says owner Marianna Chiaraluce. She adopted him when he was 7 months old. He was unsuitable for canine competitions because of a minor health issue. “But this made me love him even more,” she says. Their very first adventure was a three-month road trip from Chicago to Los Angeles. Since then, Miami has visited President Lincoln’s house in Springfield, Ill.; Elvis’ birthplace in Memphis, Tenn.; and the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Mo. He’s also the Pet General Manager at The Box in Riccione, one of the best-known seaside resorts in Northern Italy.

2. Aspen@aspenthemountainpup

Photographer Hunter Lawrence shares Aspen with 284K followers on Instagram. He adopted the Golden Retriever from a small coastal town near Houston, Texas. On Thanksgiving morning in 2012, he saw a listing for a new litter of puppies posted online. He immediately ran out the door to go check them out. Aspen loves getting buried in the snow, even if he sometimes eats snowballs, and diving into icy water. He’s visited eight different states and Lake Louise in Alberta, Canada—one of the prestigious stops on the World Cup skiing circuit. The 8-year-old currently lives in Santa Barbara, Calif. Whether he’s basking in the sunshine or in an ice cream coma, he always has the biggest smile on his face. “He’s genuinely happy…if we’re near him, he just lights up,” Lawrence says.

3. Snupi@podroze_z_pazurem

Snupi (which means sweet in Dutch) is undoubtedly the most famous dog in Poland. He has his own comic book called “Travels with Claw.” “We know very little about his past,” says owner Izabella Miklaszewski. “He was adopted by a family but returned after a week, possibly because of the cost of treating his kennel cough.” The 12-year-old mongrel has visited 36 countries on five continents. He’s also traveled over 3,200 nautical miles crossing the Amazon River and the Atlantic Ocean from Morocco to Brazil. Snupi has also conquered the 13,123-foot peak of Toubkal in Morocco. His record altitude is 19,101 feet above sea level at the Misti Volcano in Peru. He’s also trekked through the Cordillera Huayhuash, an 81-mile trail with an elevation between 10,826 and 18,012 feet.

4. Rio and Bruce@adventurrio

Best friends Rio and Bruce have been to eight states and nine national parks. Rio is a 3-year-old gray and white domestic longhair. She didn’t instantly warm up to her 1.5-year-old dog sidekick. “It took a little while for them to really become friends. But Rio is a very brave kitty and quickly figured out that Bruce is a great play buddy,” says owner Maria Roper. “When we go hiking Rio normally follows Bruce’s lead. When we’re exploring a campsite, it’s the opposite. Rio explores and Bruce follows her around, and they’re just so cute together.” Last summer, the traveling cat and dog duo camped in the Black Hills. They napped on rocks together whenever they got tired. Then Rio and Bruce visited Sequoia National Forest and the Pacific coast, where they saw the ocean for the first time.

5. Willow@vancatmeow

Unhappy after 10 years in the corporate world, Rich East sold his house and all of his possessions. Then he quit his job to travel with his rescue cat Willow in a campervan. Since leaving their hometown of Hobart, Tasmania, they’ve covered more than 31,000 miles. “Willow spends most of her time off leash with supervision. She rarely wanders more than 100 yards from the van, but when she does, I can find her with her tracking collar,” East says. “She’s made my van a home and the whole of Australia her backyard.” The 6-year-old has visited New South Wales, Queensland, Northern Territory, Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory.

6. Burma@burmaadventurecat

An Iraqi war vet with post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, Stephen Simmons was homeless. For five years, he lived out of his Jeep with his military service dog Puppi. In April 2013, he was sitting outside a grocery in Grants Pass having a sandwich when a homeless girl came up with a box of free kittens. Simmons held Burma and couldn’t resist him. The black cat spent the first eight weeks of his life in a damp tent during the cold, rainy Oregon winter. Burma, who has 73K Instagram fans, has traveled to 31 states with Simmons and his girlfriend, Nicole Rienzie. She and her two Instafamous cats, Monk and Bean, have also joined the trio, becoming a blended family of six. “Although Burma grew up on the go…he’s made me believe in something much bigger than us and this world again,” Simmons says.

7. Max and Louise@max_et_louise

Thiago Ferreira documents the adventures of Parson Russell Terriers Max and Louise who have 68K Instagram followers. Max arrived in 2009 for Christmas. He was only 49 days old. Louise was Max’s Christmas gift a few years later. Before she was adopted in Caracas, Venezuela, Max used to sleep most of the time. But since that day, he’s had his own partner in crime. Max and Louise have lived with the photographer in Paris and Lisbon and accompany him every year when he visits Rio de Janeiro for Christmas. “They love to jump off boats for a dip in the water,” Ferreira says. They’ve visited the French Alps, Las Vegas, the Greek island of Mykonos, the Leaning Tower of Pisa and Miami Beach.

8. Lilo@lowrider_lilo

Lilo is a 4-year-old Pembroke Welsh corgi from Calgary, Alberta. Wearing bandanas and Corgi goggles (or “coggles”), she’s been adventuring in the Canadian Rockies since 2016. “We started Lilo on short hikes with barely any elevation first, then slowly built up her endurance and stamina to longer and harder hikes,” says owner Aiko Dolatre. “Even with that, we still have to be mindful of her health, not letting her jump down from high places on the trail and keeping a closer eye on her in hot weather conditions.” Lilo has ridden a wooden horse in the Enchanted Forest and braved the Capilano Suspension Bridge. She’s also visited Prairie Mountain, Sunwapta Falls, Johnston Canyon and Moraine Lake.

9. Ollie@explorewithollie

Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, Stephen Martin joined the Army in 2005. Seven years later, he moved from his duty station at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium to Colorado Springs. That’s where he adopted Ollie, a Wirehaired Fox Terrier mix, who’s climbed 37 of Colorado’s 14ers. Ollie, who has 21K Instagram followers, loves drinking out of creeks and lying down in them. Martin and Ollie start hiking at 3 a.m. and sit on the peak for an hour or two before sunrise. Because dogs see in dichromatic color, Martin doesn’t really know what a gorgeous sunrise looks like to Ollie.“But he’ll sit there on the rock next to me…and I watch him enjoy it,” he says. “I feel like he knows when we reach the top.”

4 Hidden Travel Dangers for Pets
Want to live with no excuses and no regrets?
Here are 4 dangers to watch out for.

BY CHERESE COBB, FREELANCER

Anxiety: According to “Scientific Reports”—an online multidisciplinary open-access journal—50 percent of dogs are afraid of loud noises, heights and walking on metal grids. Cats are commonly stressed by another person or pet. “So let your pets sniff all the things they want to sniff. Let them hide if something spooks them—in your arms or a backpack, so you become their safe space,” Roper says. “They’ll gradually build more and more confidence and learn to love new experiences.”

Fishing Gear: Keep them away from your tackle boxes and bait buckets. Dogs often get fishing hooks stuck in their nose and tongue. It’s not rare to see dogs that have swallowed, well…hook, line and sinker. If you’ve got any lead sinkers or jigheads lying around, be careful. If your dogs are naughty enough to swallow one (or several), they can cause lead poisoning.

Pressure-Treated Wood: Pressure-treated wood is coated with chromate copper arsenate (CCA) that protects it from insects and rot. Because it lasts 20 years or more, it’s been used to build 90 percent of all outdoor wooden structures in the US, says the Environmental Working Group. CCA is dangerous because it’s made with arsenic. It can seep into the soil and pool on wooden surfaces. Whether you’re picnicking or fly fishing on an arsenic-treated deck, keep an eye on your pets. Don’t let them lap up puddles or play in dirt that could have ashes from a CCA wood fire. One tablespoon contains a fatal dose of arsenic.

Snakes: According to a new study published in “Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology,” cats are twice as likely to survive venomous snake bites than dogs. That’s because they often swat at snakes with their paws while dogs investigate them with their nose and mouth. Venom acts faster on dog plasma than cats or humans. Without snakebite first aid, dogs will quickly bleed to death. “Dogs are usually more active than cats, which isn’t great after a bite has taken place,” writes Lead Researcher Bryan Fry. “The best practice is to remain as still as possible to slow the spread of venom through the body.”

BY JESSICA PAIRRETT, COPY EDITOR

Who among us doesn’t think our precious pups are smart? Well, okay, maybe not all of us do. While our dogs are smart in their own ways, not every pooch out there is born to earn an A on every task he or she is asked to do. But some dogs are simply smarter, right?

There’s no cut-and-dry answer to that. In looking at a dog’s intellect, we need to take a step back and consider just how is a dog’s intelligence determined. Is it by the number of tricks he does or the number of words he knows? What about if your dog is savvy out on the agility course? That’s not a feat all dogs are built to master. Then there are dog breeds we may consider highly intelligent war heroes, those who put their lives on the line and display bravery as they sniff out dangerous battlefields. And we cannot forget to include how well dogs can pick up on our emotions, often referred to in the human workplace as emotional intelligence. Let’s take a look at how dogs have varying degrees of intellectual and emotional intelligence.

Intelligence by Breed

So who is the expert on this issue? One of the places we often turn to is the American Kennel Club (AKC). As one of the authorities on all things dog, would it surprise you to learn that the AKC currently does not have a list of so-called smart breeds? Wisely, the AKC takes the stance that dogs are individuals, and to answer the intelligence question, we need to look at breeds and how they are classified. For example, working breeds have instincts and natural abilities that allow them to quickly perform jobs while other breeds are highly driven to please their people.

In short, the AKC views a dog’s intelligence based on breed, training and natural traits. Clear as mud, right? We can thankfully refer to the work of famed canine psychologist Stanley Coren, who had once educated us about different types of intelligence (see sidebar). He has provided us with one metric—working intelligence—with which to compare our dog’s smarts to others.

In Coren’s book “The Intelligence of Dogs,” he took a dive into the working intelligence of dog breeds. His research included lengthy surveys from about 200 dog obedience judges. Numerous breeds were rated on how well they obeyed commands and how quickly they learned new tricks. Those deemed the brightest breeds were the dogs that could obey a command 95 percent of the time and learn a command in five or fewer tries. And then, ta-da! The 10 reportedly smartest dog breeds list was born.

Top 10 in Working Intelligence

1) Border Collie: The quintessential agility dog, Border Collies are full of energy and smarts. Also recognized as a herding dog, this breed is a true workaholic and an athlete who also loves to cuddle with its people.

You might be familiar with the famous Chaser, a Border Collie who knew more than 1,000 words. Chaser’s person, John Pilley, trained her to learn and retain words much greater than “ball” and “toy,” said Karen B. London, PhD, a certified applied animal behaviorist and certified professional dog trainer. Chaser could even distinguish between nouns and verbs! Pilley remained modest about Chaser’s depth of knowledge, though. He maintained that other dogs could also learn just as Chaser did, that is, as long as other dogs were taught like Chaser: sometimes many hours a day and in a methodical and extensive manner that also included fun and play.

2) Poodle: How does this froufrou dog come in at second place? It’s easy! The Poodle (all breed sizes) is a friendly, active breed with a reputation as one of the most trainable out there. Regular exercising and training are musts to keep their extremely intelligent brains busy and out of any sassy behaviors. For these reasons, Poodles also make great hunting buddies helping you track and retrieve.

3) German Shepherd: All hail the police (and military) hero! The list of these brave dogs in history is long. With a strong work ethic, they require a job to do so they can burn off energy. This is a loyal friend of the family and a wonderful guard dog. Their affection and intellect also serves them well in roles as guide dogs or in other forms of service to their humans.

4) Golden Retriever: The sweet, lovable Golden can have impeccable manners with help from your obedience training and socialization with other pups and people. Goldens love to be active, whether it’s swimming, running, fetching, hunting or hiking with his family. You’ve likely heard of Goldens doing search-and-rescue or other service work.

5) Doberman Pinscher: Hailing from Germany, these brave dogs are proven guards. But their working intelligence also makes them ideal therapy, rescue, military and police dogs. The Dobie’s strength, speed and endurance has also led to their solid reputation as protectors.

6) Shetland Sheepdog: Having intelligence with a sense of humor, Shelties have an abundance of energy that’s made for a long history of herding and keeping watch over its flock and family. They also are very affectionate and playful, enjoying playtime with children and learning new tricks.

7) Labrador Retriever: There’s a reason Labs have topped the list of lovable dogs. If you have one in your home, you know their affectionate, playful natures are top Lab qualities. The breed is also an active one that makes for a great running companion. Being gentle, people-pleasing and easy to train also make the breed ideal for search and rescue and other service work.

8) Papillon: The smallest breed on the list is the butterfly dog, nicknamed for their unique ear shape. These intelligent dogs are as beautiful as they are happy and friendly. While small in stature, the Papillon is fast and quite the little athlete up for whatever training you’re ready to offer.

9) Rottweiler: Solidly built, Rotties have made excellent working dogs since their Germany origins. This herding breed also falls into the military and police dog bucket. Rotties, devoted companions that they are, are great service and therapy dogs. And they take on the obedience circuit, too!

10) Australian Cattle Dog: This working dog of Blue Heeler origin is full of energy—physical and mental! ACD parents should have energy to expend as this breed needs to work, whether it’s in agility, herding, tracking or general obedience.

So, there you have it: the top 10 smartest breeds as measured by working intelligence. But don’t forget: Breed isn’t the only factor influencing intelligence. You also have to consider their personality traits and the amount and type of training you’ve done together.

My Dog Didn’t Make the List!

Worried your dog’s smarts might not be up to par? Don’t be! First, remember that this data was gathered from obedience judges, which could have been subjective. Ever had a bad experience with a certain breed of dog? Think of your bias (good or bad) around that particular breed, and recognize that is your opinion. And that’s perfectly okay!

But if you want to bond with your dog while upping their working intelligence, Petfinder.com offers some great tips.

First, remember that all dogs are trainable. Find what motivates him and watch him excel. Second, make sure to use positive reinforcements whether that includes food, lots of pets, a short game of fetch, bubbles to pop or another activity that is super motivating.

Build your dog’s intelligence through interactive games, sports and agility, food puzzles or snuffle mats. Remember that motivation works wonders. Remember that smarter breeds require more of something (stimulation, activity or attention) that keeps their minds sharp and their bodies physically active, according to Petfinder.com. Bond through regular walks, other exercise and play sessions and behavior training.

Finally, make sure that no matter what you do, get up and interact with your dog. Just as a child learns and grows as their mom or dad spends quality time with them, so dogs do with you. And besides, do you really need a specific reason to spend time with your furry companions?

Intelligence in Many Forms

We’ve talked a lot about a dog’s working intelligence. But what if one of these dog breeds isn’t for you? Remember that all dogs are individuals and there are so many kinds of intelligence that can be paired with your dog’s style. Find the one that best suits her or him. After all, the best kind of dog is the one perfectly fitting for your lifestyle.

I remember how I once compared my now-senior dog’s intelligence to that of his prior packmate’s. Buddy was a rule-breaker, not a rule-follower, and truly would not have ranked high on working intelligence. Lucky, however, ranks way up there in interpersonal intelligence. His communication skills often amaze me, including his many appropriately timed sighs (huffs)—even when I don’t think he’s listening! Lucky’s other pack member, Taco, ranks up there in adaptive intelligence. He’s a sneaky one for sure!

No matter the breed of dog we keep, we should all take the time to figure out our dog’s true intellect. Find out what makes your dog happy and feed that. Let them explore their interests, said London. And as Pilley believed, you’ll find better communication—and happiness—with your dog because of it.

What do you think? What type of intelligence does your dog show?
Are we missing a type of intelligence your dog displays?
Let us know at our Facebook page!

COLLECTED, WRITTEN & EDITED
By NASTASSIA PUTZ, PAULA MACIOLEK & JESSICA PAIRRETT

Whether you have a child with behavior problems, a teenager with depression or anxiety, or a family member with physical health issues, equine therapy or hippotherapy can benefit anyone suffering physical, mental or emotional ailments.

The earliest known mention of equine therapy can be traced back to roughly 400 B.C. and was discovered in ancient writings from Greek physician Hippocrates.

It wasn’t until 1952 when Liz Hartel from Denmark won a silver medal in Grand Prix dressage at the Helsinki Olympic Games that it entered the limelight. Hartel found that using horses was a great way to strengthen her lower body, especially after she had developed some paralysis in her legs caused by polio. Hartel’s success woke up the medical and equine communities in Europe, and therapeutic riding programs began emerging.

Talk then traveled from Europe to the U.S. and Canada, giving like-minded individuals the initiative to start therapeutic riding centers in North America. In 1969, the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association (NARHA) was started and eventually became known as PATH International, which includes dozens of different equine-assisted activities that benefit people with special needs.

This brilliant and organic therapy can now be found locally in most areas and has helped shape the worlds of many. According to PATH International’s 2017 Fact Sheet, autism spectrum disorder is the number one most served population under the special needs umbrella. And ages 6 to 18 seem to be the majority of the participants in equine therapy. Take a look at some of the local ones here in Wisconsin.

BY PAULA MACIOLEK, COPY EDITOR

Just 45 minutes north of Madison, Wis., a non-profit organization called Baraboo River Equine-Assisted Therapies, Inc., also known as B.R.E.A.THE, Inc., offers equine-assisted activities and therapy or EAAT for people ages 4 and up who have special needs.

B.R.E.A.THE was started in 2016 by Chris Singer and her husband when they came back to their Midwest roots after living on their southern California horse ranch. “We had five horses when we came here,” Chris explained, “and were looking for a way to give back to the community and benefit people—more than just us.”

Riders of a wide variety of physical and other disabilities can participate in learning horsemanship, both inside and outside of the barn, and get great exercise. “We have a lot of riders with autism, physical disabilities and learning disabilities, PTSD, spina bifida, Down syndrome.” Riders do not control the horse but rather helpers on the ground do. For the most part, there isn’t any kind of special equipment needed in sessions. “It depends on the rider, of course. We’ll use a traditional saddle or bareback pad, and if they’re really unable to support themselves, they have a side walker that walks on each side of them. Ninety nine percent of our riders can sit themselves.”

While participants might be excluded from sports at school because of physical or cognitive limitations, they can enjoy the inclusion that EAAT offers. “You’re not going to find them playing soccer, but we can put them on a horse and teach them how to control a 1200-lb animal, and they’re learning something and building core strength and confidence. That’s the positive reinforcement that sports have that [our riders] are able to participate in.”

Volunteers are an important part of the efforts, and Singer is always looking for people who have weekday and evening availability Monday through Friday. Help with special events and fundraisers is needed, too.

Of course, the lessons cannot happen without the horses. They need to have a special temperament that Singer describes as “pretty bomb-proof.” She explained, “they have a lot of input they’re dealing with during a lesson, so it can be pretty stressful. They have someone on their back who doesn’t really know what they’re doing, and a lot of times they can be off-balance, so the horse is working hard to keep that person on their back.”

Singer currently has six horses, and she needs three more to join the ranch for summer sessions. “To go out on the open market, it can cost $2000 to $10000 to purchase a horse. We are lucky if we get someone to donate their horse.” It’s challenging to find a horse that is of the right temperament, has the ability to do certain things such as trotting, while not having too many cost-prohibitive medical needs.

People are referred to B.R.E.A.THE via school counselors, special education teachers, parents who network with each other and share with other parents, as well as students on field trips at the ranch who go home and tell their parents. Even chiropractors, physical therapists and county health specialists spread the word about the benefits of EAAT at B.R.E.A.THE.

To get involved at B.R.E.A.THE as a rider, a volunteer or to make a donation, visit barabooriverequineassistedtherapies.org or call 608-504-2299.

BY PAULA MACIOLEK, COPY EDITOR

Three Gaits, named for the three movements of a horse—walk, trot and canter—is a nonprofit organization that provides equine-assisted activities and therapy (EAAT) for people with physical, emotional and intellectual challenges. Located just south of Madison in Stoughton, it began in 1983 under the leadership of Gail Brown and Lorrie Renker with just one horse and eight riders and “a love for horses and an interest in providing equine-assisted activities for individuals with disabilities in Dane County,” describes Mary Ann Roth, interim executive director.

Clients range from age 4 to 70 and may have physical, emotional and intellectual challenges or disabilities including, but not limited to, autism, ADD/ADHD and Down syndrome.

Three Gaits offers therapeutic horseback riding led by instructors who are certified by PATH International. Services include group sessions that are mounted and unmounted education in which riding skills with a therapeutic value are taught. They also offer both occupational therapy and hippotherapy. Roth explains that occupational therapy in this setting “utilizes the movement of the horse as the treatment tool.” Hippotherapy is provided by a licensed occupational therapist and is done in a one-on-one setting. Sessions run three per year in 12-week sessions.

Roth lists the benefits riders receive as a “gain in physical strength, balance, increased self-esteem, following directions, learning a new skill, socialization with classmates, [and] volunteers and staff developing a special bond with their horse.”

Three Gaits enjoys the efforts of approximately 350 volunteers who are involved with office work, care of the horses and fundraising to name just a few. They also are involved with hands-on work in the lessons supporting the riders by walking alongside and leading the horses. Roth shared that “…they come to us with a wide range of skills to offer, and what skills they do not have, we provide training. We are always looking for more volunteers.”

The work of the EAAT provided at the ranch is supported from United Way and grants from foundations. Private donors are a vital source of monetary support, and Three Gaits relies heavily upon them. Fundraising events are also held through yearly events that include several horse shows, a student horse show, a tomato plant sale and a major event taking place in the fall as well as a continuing GoFundMe effort to help with covering the cost of hay, which Roth reports as having “…almost tripled in the last year with unpredictable weather and such a wet growing season.”

The horses in their barn range in terms of breed and Roth describes them as having a calm disposition, gentle, sound, in good health, experienced in a variety of riding disciplines. Often, they will add to their barn by people donating horses. Sometimes, children have a horse while growing up and when they leave for college, they donate the horse to Three Gaits.

People find out about Three Gaits by word of mouth, from doctors and therapists, referring participants as well as state case workers.

To find out more about the EAAT programs, visit 3gaits.org or call 608-877-9086.

BY JESSICA PAIRRETT, COPY EDITOR

Snuggles and kisses, gentle nuzzles and hilarious antics. These are all attributes we love about spending time with our dogs. We’ll include the feline variety in there as well. But what about the quality time spent with horses? If you haven’t had the opportunity to do so yet, you’re sure missing out.

Located in Franksville, Stepping Stone Farms is one of those special places where you can meet a number of equally special horses. The nonprofit is a therapeutic facility that also rescues or receives donated horses. Lia Sader, founder of Stepping Stone Farms, says that horses have been her passion since she was a young girl. In Lia’s past life, she was a farrier working on horses’ shoes and hooves. But in 2004, her calling changed, and the farm was born.

Saving Those in Need
Stepping Stone Farms, while rescuing horses of any breed, keeps a focus on those who are older. Working with horses also included working with their owners, many of whom had the wrong breed of horse that did not meet their needs, Lia says. Sadly, Lia also met many owners who no longer wanted their horses because they could no longer be ridden or there was another unforseen circumstance.

Most of the horses that come to the farm are leaving bad situations. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that they have been intentionally neglected or did not receive good care. Sometimes, Lia says, the horse’s owner is doing the best he or she can to care for the animal, as can happen with dog rescue. One of the horses Stepping Stone Farms took in came from a situation in which its family just could not afford the food, and the horse was extremely malnourished. But this is where the beauty of rescue steps in to help the horses continue along their journey.

“The horses need to live their lives, have a job and do something,” Lia says. Just because a horse may be older or have a foot condition does not mean their life is over. This just means they’re ready to move on to that next chapter.

One rather particular fellow is 40-year-old Pony who Lia describes as a grumpy old man—but not all the time. He’ll keep to himself but knows how to be a friend, too. One visitor to the farm, a young girl, had poor social skills and had a hard time making friends. That is, until Pony followed the little girl around the show ring. “He taught her how to be a friend,” Lia marvels. This goes to show that age is nothing but a number!

A Therapeutic Mission
Saving animals, both large and small, may warm the hearts of some of us. Those same animals can also provide therapeutic benefits. Stepping Stone Farms offers therapeutic riding but also programming for children and adults who have mental health issues. Equine-assisted coaching is one way in which the horses are used for therapy.

Lia is a huge proponent of Eagala certification, in which an equine specialist and a mental health clinician work as a team along with a client and a horse. The Eagala model is ground-based with no riding involved. This allows children and adults of all abilities to take part in the therapy. The group works inside an arena, and the horse and client can interact as they wish, which creates a deep connection and gives the client space for reflection.

Clients at Stepping Stone Farms will currently work alongside Lia and a chosen horse (she has an opening for a therapist!) to build self-efficacy, self-confidence, self-acceptance and self-discovery. While working with these giant, gentle beings, clients also build skills in communication, trust, assertiveness, healthy boundaries and impulse moderation. Equine therapy also helps in the reduction of anxiety and isolation.

Having experienced the benefits of equine therapy herself, Lia wants to share the same benefits with others. When Lia was 17, her mom passed away. Lia used to suffer from depression, and it was time spent with animals—horses in particular—that helped her heal.

Why Horses?
Horses may be large and powerful, but their size can help us take pause and reflect on times when we feel overwhelmed with large obstacles looming ahead of us. Plus, they are intelligent and especially sensitive to their environment. That includes reading our body language which they interpret and respond to accordingly. And, just like our beloved dogs, horses have their own personalities, moods and attitudes, too (remember Pony?).

Why not stop and check out Stepping Stone Farms yourself? During the last weekend of April, make sure to visit the farm’s free fundraising event “A Day of Horse Play.” The event is held rain or shine and will offer a good time whether or not you bring the kids!

Call (414) 379-2314 or visit steppingstonefarms.com for more info.

BY NASTASSIA PUTZ, PUBLISHER

Development of the MKE Urban Stables is well underway and will be completed sometime this spring. Located at 143 East Lincoln Avenue, the stables will be first and foremost a dual program to benefit Milwaukee youth and Veterans, while allowing the community to intermingle with police officers in a positive manner according to Kent Lovern, chief deputy district attorney of Milwaukee County.

Lovern is the board president for the stables and is excited to see the transformation that may come from officers and youths viewing the world through each other’s eyes. Ideally, these stables will help break down barriers between the two (often opposing) cultures and create a dialog in which both see the humanity in each other. He notes that youths will also be able to learn from the Veterans in the same capacity.

Ed Krishok, the vice president and treasurer of this project, says the facility, which will be a home for the MPD Mounted Patrol’s horses, will be ready sometime later this year for equine-assisted therapy, but a date has not yet been confirmed.

The MPD is partnering with the VA and Hamilton High School to make this therapeutic program possible according to Lovern. Hamilton High School is the largest Milwaukee public school with the largest number of special needs students. So students would benefit from a local facility geared towards helping them. And currently veterans have to travel to use a facility in Illinois for therapy.

Krishok would like to mention how grateful the stables are for its community partners who are responsible for bringing this “one-of-a-kind equine center and community gathering place to life.”

GOALS:

• Provide Equine Programs & Experiences That Keep Youth & Veterans Coming To MKE Urban Stables

• Improve Police and Community Relations by Helping to Build and Support a Human Connection Between Both

• Build a Culture & Appreciation of Service

• Establish MKE Urban Stables as a Multi-Cultural Gathering Place Reflective of Our City

BY NASTASSIA PUTZ, PUBLISHER

REINS Equine-Assisted Activities and Therapies began in 1982 by a group of students from Lakeshore Technical Institute in Sheboygan, Wis. The acronym REINS stands for Riders (Participants) being Encouraged, Inspired, Nurtured and above all Successful. At first this organization was created to provide recreation and exercise to those with special needs. In 2013-14 it began to evolve into the program that many are familiar with today: A non-profit organization with two forms of equine-assisted activities and therapies (EAAT) known to improve the lives of those with special needs through interactions with horses.

“We are accredited by the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH) International and our instructors are certified in therapeutic riding instruction and/or equine specialists in mental health and learning,” says Theresa Zimmermann, executive director. “This level of expertise allows us to offer a range of equine-assisted activities and therapies to our clients.”

Therapeutic Riding & Equine-Assisted Learning
The therapeutic riding program is open to ages 4 and older. It focuses on the main skills associated with learning how to ride while making educational modifications and accommodations to riders with disabilities. Instructors modify classes as needed to help participants reach their physical, cognitive, social and emotional goals.

In comparison, assisted learning services help clients develop critical life skills such as trust, leadership, assertiveness, communication, self-confidence and self-awareness according to PATH. This particular program was originally designed for middle school and high school-aged children with noted behavioral problems. However, REINS offers this to younger children as well. The program is called “Learning to Lead,” and includes a mounted and unmounted version.

How Equine Therapy Differs
Zimmermann explains that the key difference in this type of therapy is based on the enjoyable and motivational environment available to the client. It allows the instructor to target certain skills that may be harder to address through traditional therapies and/or interventions.

Disabilities They Serve
Down Syndrome
Autism
Cerebral Palsy
Spina Bifida
Spinal Cord Injuries
Speech Disorders
Genetic Conditions
Developmental Delays
ADHD
Anxiety
Depression
OCD
ODD
Cardiac Conditions
And Many More!

When & Where
REINS is currently working on expanding the seasons they can offer therapy. As of this spring, they are building an outdoor riding facility that will be named “Freedom Ring.” During an outdoor riding experience, a participant named Caleb told his mom he felt free, thus influencing the naming of this outdoor arena.

REINS is always looking for volunteers (12 or older) and donations. Please visit reins-wi.org for more information. Scholarships are available for those unable to afford tuition.

“Without the support of the communities in which we serve, we simply could not do what we do,” says Zimmermann.

Contact Theresa Zimmermann at
920-946-8599 for more information.

Donations can be mailed to:
P.O. Box 68, Sheboygan Falls, WI 53085.

2020 SEASON:
June 15 – Aug. 28
(No classes week of July 20)