Horses have been used throughout history to benefit the emotional well-being of humans. Jules Rainforth, the proud owner of Rein Forth Equine, is a huge believer in the healing power horse’s offer, and has opened up her ranch to youth and adults in order to share these benefits.
Recently, Rein Forth Equine made headlines after offering equine-assisted workshops for LGBTQ teens. Eager to learn more, Equine Wellness spoke to Jules about this unique program, and other workshops she offers.
EW: Why don’t you start by telling us a bit about your organization?
JR: Rein Forth Equine opened the doors to business in July, 2016. We are located in Carstairs, Alberta on 125 acres of land. My equine family consists of a herd of two miniature donkeys and ten horses — eight of which are currently partnered with Equine Facilitated Wellness Activities.
EW: What type of workshops and other services do you offer?
JR: I offer individual sessions, group workshops and Intro to Western Pleasure Riding lessons. My aim is to provide a safe space for clients to grow on an emotional level and hopefully start the process of healing. Rein Forth Equine is a place people can come and be accepted ‘as they are’, where they can increase their sense of self-awareness and self-connection. Horses offer us such a unique and easy way to do this!
EW: How did the LGBTQ program get started?
JR: My experience with the LGBTQ group began due to my connection with Hugh Sutherland High School. I have offered a few workshops to this school over the past year and my contact felt these teens in particular would benefit a great deal by spending time here at Rein Forth Equine. She was right! Their feedback indicated this was a very appreciated and necessary experience for them!
EW: Has the program been a success so far?
JR: It’s been a huge success. I had hopes of providing a safe place for these teens where they would be met with honesty, acceptance, no preconceived notions, no criticism and no judgement. This is my goal with anyone who attends my programs. I felt that the LGBTQ community especially is filled with individuals who are frequently met with adversary, judgment, criticism and lack of acceptance. Because horses are not threatening and people generally trust animals, they offer us a fantastic opportunity to reach those who may not seek out support in traditional ways.
A large focus of our time ended up being on anxiety and alarm – in hindsight, it’s no surprise they all experienced high levels of anxiety. What’s really interesting is that my approach to this group was also their approach to me… never have I felt more accepted. We were all free to be ourselves and it was wonderful!
EW: What are your goals for the program moving forward?
JR: My goals for my program are to continue in a partnership with my horses in making a difference in people’s lives. I am part of a group called “Ignitors” for the Mountainview first 2000 days Coalition. They’ve done research indicating children in the community are not developing on a social or emotional scale at a rate they should be and have in the past. I hope to change this. It’s important for our children and youth to get off their electronics, and into the outdoors! It’s important for them to develop leadership skills, grow their confidence, and build self-esteem, trust, empathy, communication skills – the list goes on. I plan to help in this regard by continuing on the same path I have been on!
EW: What workshops do you have planned for this year?
JR: In 2018, I’ll be hosting a Women’s Connection Group, a Mother/Daughter Father/Son weekend, a Divorce Care Group and other workshops and summer camps for young people. All of these, of course, will include work with horses to increase various components of emotional well-being. Society is so fast-paced that we barely have time for feelings anymore. People who experience trauma — or even just a bad day — tend to numb out. Horses help us find our feelings again!
EW: Sounds wonderful! Before we say goodbye, do you have any success stories you’d like to share from any of your workshops?
JR: Of course! After the very first group workshop I offered for young kids, I received feedback from one of the boy’s moms. She indicated that her son was generally not very affectionate, and never said “I love you”. Apparently after he began attending my program at Rein Forth Equine, he started hugging his mom more often and saying “I love you” on a regular basis.
It’s so rewarding!