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Pandemic coping for kids straight from the (therapy) horse’s mouth

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The therapy horses and staff of Team Velvet Inc., a nonmounted horse therapy program for children ages 5 to 12, have made two videos designed to help children cope with COVID-19 stress. Scripted by lead psychologist Dr. Susan Edwards and videographed by Media Director Lillian Shupe, the videos present a unique format for the three therapy horses Velvet, Precious, and Little Annie to reach children.

The first video presents the story of Velvet’s near death and hospitalization as a young foal and his growing appreciation for the role of essential workers who help others. His story, illustrated by drawings from his children’s book “Tales of a Wonder Horse: The Birthday,” presents a forum for honoring those in many different positions who assist the most vulnerable during difficult times.

The second video is designed around children’s letters to Velvet asking coping advice. It offers an imaginary insight into a Helping Horse Board Meeting in which all three therapy horses participate in and offer information to the children asking questions about stress. In the video as in the context of the actual horse therapy, the horses work with the psychologist and are in the roles of psychological models, supportive friends, observers and collaborators in helping.

Both videos are posted on the Team Velvet Inc. website, www.teamvelvet.com.

“Children have many questions about coping,” Edwards reported, “and they often tell animals things they don’t always tell people. In this case, the animals are able to report back to children helpful ideas.”

To refer a child or for more information on equine mental health therapy for children, visit the website or contact Edwards at 609-924-4330.


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