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Because of Horses

Jun 14, 2019

  • Elise Gaston Chand welcomes Kristen DeMarco, an equine specialist and mental health advocate to Because of Horses podcast. Kristen is the executive director of Gateway HorseWorks and has combined a lifetime of equestrian experience with her background in psychology to help humans partner with horses in new and innovative ways. She is passionate about helping individuals, teams, families and corporate groups improve their quality of life through guided interactions with horses. 
    Kristen studied communication arts and psychology at Villanova University in Philadelphia before working in the fashion industry. In 2011, she became a certified equine specialist through the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA). Kristen combined her expertise in corporate communication, psychology and equine behavior to create team experiences involving horses to promote positive change within organizations. In 2012, Kristen founded WorkHorse, a company which supports the organizational needs of corporate teams, school districts and other groups, to offer this programming to a wider audience. 
    In the summer of 2015, she founded Gateway HorseWorks, a Philadelphia based non-profit dedicated to offering equine assisted psychotherapy (EAP) to children, adults and families. Their mission is to offer transformative EAP services to assist in the recovery from mental illness, trauma and grief. The organization seeks to be a leader in the field of education and EAP services and is committed to the wellness of the mind, body and spirit of its clients as well as environmental sustainability. 
    Gateway HorseWorks values the promotion of self-discovery, growth and learning by establishing an environment based on integrity, trust, teamwork and communication. Under Kristen’s direction, the organization strives to be a leader in the field of EAP and is partnering with West Chester University to conduct cutting-edge research related to its use. 


    Topics of Discussion: 

    [:25] About today’s episode. 

    [1:05] Kristen explains how, in her work, horses become metaphors for exploring relationships and what you face outside of the arena. 

    [2:40] How Kristen found inspiration in a small pony she was rehabbing after her marriage ended in divorce. 

    [6:16] Kristen speaks about her other organizationWorkHorse, and explains how horses factor into helping corporate teams build their interpersonal, leadership, and disruptive innovation skillsets. 

    [8:16] Is it a benefit or a detriment for team members who are already familiar with horses to participate in the team-building exercises that WorkHorse provides? 

    [11:53] Kristen highlights some of the outcomes she has observed in her Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) approach through her nonprofit, Gateway Horseworks. 

    [16:26] The differences between traditional therapy and EAP. 

    [22:02] Kristen speaks about their community program, Stable Pathways, a trauma-informed equine-assisted psychotherapy pilot program specifically designed for women in the Chester County Women’s Reentry Assessment & Programming Initiative (WRAP) to address anxiety, depression, and hopelessness. 

    [32:55] What kinds of horses does Kristen have in her programs? What are their personalities like? 

    [38:52] The diverse range of jobs horses can fill, far beyond riding. 

    [42:18] The science of being around horses and how it has a profound impact on humans! 

    [44:51] About Kristen’s passion for educating the mental health community about EAP with a particular focus on underserved populations, and the kinds of responses she garners with her work. 

    [47:20] About next week’s episode of Because of Horses. 

    [49:14] Kristen’s thoughts on keeping the conversation going about EAP and mental health. 

    [52:57] Where to learn more and follow Kristen online. 


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    Mentioned in this Episode: 


    EquestFile (Use coupon code: BOH10 to receive a 10% discount for two months off your subscription) 


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