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KD Sunday Spotlight: Murrysville stable helps kids heal through horse therapy

KD Sunday Spotlight: Murrysville stable helps kids heal through horse therapy
KD Sunday Spotlight: Murrysville stable helps kids heal through horse therapy 03:30

MURRYSVILLE, Pa. (KDKA) - In this week's KD Sunday Spotlight, we hung out with horses that heal.

Since July 2020, Bella Terra Stables in Murrysville provides therapy and wellness programs to children in crisis.

"Joey is our head therapist," said Amber Power, the Bella Terra Stables co-founder and equine specialist. "He is just amazing with our little guys. He's so patient, so kind."

"[Della] actually is our grief therapist," said Power. "She works with children who have suffered loss and are struggling with that."

These are just two of the seven retired horses at Bella Terra Stables that help children like Avelinn McGee unplug, reconnect and grow. Avelinn had anxiety entering first grade, but her mother Laura said the horses give her the confidence she needs.

"There have been times where I have to stop and say, 'Avelinn, what would Max do? What would Okie do?' and that has really helped her calm down, take a breath and then go into school," Laura said. 

They also heal children and teenagers grappling with depression, PTSD and trauma through therapy sessions outside the traditional office setting.

"Kids would often check out, zone out and just started nodding," said Isle Eisele, the Bella Terra Stables co-founder and a licensed professional counselor. "But when they're in the ring with a horse, all your senses are firing. You're not able to check out. You're fully present and it's in those moments of being fully present that we feel like real healing can happen."  

During the sessions, Eisele goes in the ring with the child and horse. Power also joins them.

"We'll start asking questions of what the client is feeling while they're with the horses -- if the horse's actions prompt any memories or if they can connect with something that's been going on in their past or right in that moment," Eisele said.

The founders said they have the titles, but these horses really do all the work.

"I think horses have this herd instinct that they need to be together, and they extend that towards people, which is a real gift," said Power. "For instance, CeiCei, she does a lot of work with kids who have some trauma in their past. Inevitably, a lot of kids will come right to her stall and she'll just be right there with them. It's kind of nice to have a thousand-pound support system in place."

They also have programs including Thrive where children work with the horses and gain life skills, Stories in the Stable to encourage kids to read and meditation with horses.

"Whenever I think of here, I use the same word: magic. Because there's no other way to explain it. Kids come here. They just feel good," said McGee -- feeling good and a little lighter, removing stress and building strength.

"We really hope they can just walk away with a greater self-awareness of who they are and their value in this world," said Power. "We want kids to not only overcome what's happened in the past and the challenges that they've had, but also moving forward in their world, make a difference, be there for somebody else."

Bella Terra Stables has its Day of Magic fundraising event on May 14. There will be princesses and ponies and heroes and horses. For more information on how you can buy tickets or participate in these programs, click here.

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