Jenn Pagone, LCPC
Whispering White Horse Stables -
where horses and humans connect
Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP)
Whispering White Horse Stables is an equine assisted psychotherapy facility that offers trauma informed programs to individuals, couples and families, and groups. EMDR and parts work is combined with Natural Lifemanship principles which results in a unique and powerful therapeutic model not offered anywhere else.
"The benefits to this work are astounding and include: self-regulation, improved connection through attachment and detachment, increased self-esteem and self-efficacy, improved mood, decreased anxiety, mindfulness, insight, and emotional, somatic and cognitive healing."
Why Horses? A Personal Journey of Growth and Healing
This question has been asked and answered in so many ways but I believe it is best answered with a personal story. I was born and raised and grew up on the Southside of Chicago. Prior to 2012 I had never even seen a real horse until I began working at a residential group home and EAP was part of the therapy program. Among the herd of 20 there was one horse that caught my eye; and not in a good way. This very dark horse was gigantic (or at least it seemed to me at the time) and I did not want to be around it at all. Every time I would take the residents to the barn and work with this horse it would produce physical sensations and emotions within me that I did not understand. Soon I began dreaming of this horse and examining what was coming up for me. After many months I allowed this horse to approach me. I nervously stood but this time something was different… I was curious. And as my curiosity grew the closer he came to me. And then he placed his head on my heart… and everything changed. I finally got it. I felt it. I experienced a change within myself that could have never happened with words, nor did it ever happen with a human. As I allowed myself to feel my emotions and connect with this thoroughbred something shifted inside of me and I felt a corrective experience I wasn’t even aware of that I so desperately needed.
At that point I realized “why horses”; they are living, breathing sentient beings as unique as humans are, with their own personalities, stories and ways of attaching, detaching, dissociating, ignoring, and resisting. Just like humans do in relationships. But unlike humans, horses are evolutionary wired to be in the moment (due to being a prey animal) and to provide feedback in the moment. Something us humans have difficulty with doing consistently.
My “why” had fascinated me and set fire to my curiosity to learn as much as I possibly could. I became a certified mental health professional with Eagala and a few years later I began the rigorous process of becoming dual certified as a mental health clinician and equine professional with the Natural Lifemanship Institute (NL). This model utilizes the neurobiology of trauma and relationships and believes that “relationships are the vehicle for change”, which aligned perfectly with my in-office clinical psychotherapy work.
Six years ago my journey shifted significantly while I was learning to ride. Since I had only worked with horses on the ground up until that point I wanted to expand my experiences with horses and connect with them in a different way… and I found a connection of a lifetime with a horse named Casper. After months of riding lessons and late night grazing sessions the owner of the barn asked if I wanted to buy him since our connection was undeniable. I also believed he would make a wonderful therapy horse. It was then that I realized that I wanted to expand my services to include equine assisted psychotherapy with Casper as a teammate. Since then I have absorbed everything I could about horse behavior, even becoming certified in equine massage and taking barefoot trimming classes.
Whispering White Horse Stables opened in Marengo, IL during November 2018. Our therapy herd now consists of 6 horses and our barn manager cat named Cosmo. We offer trauma informed individual, group and family sessions during evenings and weekends. We look forward to connecting with you today, call 773.339-7949 with any questions and to make an appointment.
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