Congratulations to our President!

Congratulations to our President, Amanda Marie Garcia on her recognition as a Marquis Who’s Who for Excellence in Executive Legal Administration. Noteworthy accomplishments, visibility, position, and prominence in a field are factors that contribute to selection for this award.

With 27 years in the legal profession, Amanda brings exceptional integrity, skill, and breadth of knowledge to her work, along with a radiating exuberance and joy that lights up and encourages all those around her. It is no surprise to us here at Wilderwood that Amanda’s service, dedication, and professionalism are being recognized and celebrated.

We are so proud that Amanda serves as Wilderwood’s Board President!

Horses in Harmony Clinic

Part of Wilderwood’s mission is to educate people about horses, and what better way to do so than hosting a “Horses in Harmony” Clinic with the enormously talented Kristin Darnell. Wilderwood’s brand new arena was the setting for Kristin’s enjoyable and informative session, with amazing riders and six beautiful equids.

Thank you, Kristin, for your generosity in sharing your wisdom and knowledge — and thank you to the participants for taking part in what was a wonderful afternoon.

Here are just some of the images from the Clinic.

BCBS, Home Depot, and Blue Bear!

So excited to announce that Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Mexico is generously sponsoring Wilderwood’s Halloween and Horses Open Day Fundraiser and Graduation.

Not only did BCBS donate generously to offset the cost of holding the event, but Blue Bear is going to be making an appearance! Wonder what Desmond will think of that!

Home Depot Los Lunas has also very generously donated a door for the renovation to the Office and Classroom.

We are so grateful and appreciative for the community support extended to Wilderwood and are excited to share our Open Day and graduation ceremony for our first cohort on October 30.

Fun in the Sun

At Wilderwood, we have incredible volunteers who, among other activities, help with the exercising and riding of the horses, both on the ground and mounted. It’s great exercise and something different for the horses. And, in the case of Lady Faith, regular exercise — along with a diet appropriate for her condition — is an integral part of her therapy plan.

Today, we were lucky enough to have Bailey riding Faith and Karen riding Rae. It’s also really beautiful to see these amazing riders start to build, step by step, a gentle, trusting partnership with the horses.

Bailey and Lady Faith
Karen and Rae

Doing Something Different …

Buzzwords — or, to put it more palatably — approaches, whether in medicine, psychology, education, or the corporate world, are the proverbial dime a dozen. Depending on where the ideological pendulum is swinging, there’s a new (or old/revived) approach to doing or perceiving something. What many of these ideas have in common is an elemental truth: something about them works or has worked in the past. The degree to which they do work tends to be less a matter of what they are, and more related to the variables of things such as time and context in which they’re applied. One approach, experiential diversity — also described as the neuroscience of happiness — is an approach that is intriguing to us at Wilderwood.

At its basis, experiential diversity involves doing something different and, the theory goes, exposure to this new experience can result in increased feelings of happiness. As Jutta Joormann discussess in her article on the topic, doing something different can improve a sense of well-being. Much of the research on experiential diversity has drawn from animal observation (that fact alone is enough to pique our interest), including studies that have shown animals roaming freely “within environments that offer diverse experiences exhibit greater cognitive well-being — in other words, they exhibit increased social activity and an enhanced ability to respond to stressful or aversive situations” (Joorman, 2021; Tost et. al, 2015).

Experiential diversity is also associated with increased positive emotions, or what is termed an “upward spiral” (as opposed to depressive, downward spirals) of positive emotion (Joorman, 2021; Garland et. al, 2010). Barbara Sher, in her excellent book I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was, illustrates this approach with the “Dog Sled Story,” a vignette that describes the outcome for a woman who did something completely different in her life and how that event opened opportunities — and the motivation for action — that had previously not existed.

We use this approach of experiential diversity for some of our participants here at Wilderwood. For many, encountering a horse up close is a first-time experience, as is learning about equine psychology, practical aspects of horse-care, and the art of riding a horse. Recently, several of our participants experienced and participated in these encounters with some remarkable results. Here is one of our participants who, electing to work with the horses one-on-one, has come so far in such a short amount of time!

Photographs by Melanie Woods-Sedillo


Wilderwood’s “V-Day” (Volunteer Day) was held yesterday and a whole lot was accomplished! Thank you SO much to our wonderful volunteers who attended yesterday: Lindsey, Adrian, Paul, Vanessa, Julieta, Audrey, Sharon — and, of course, Adriela! — thank you for the weeding, the cleaning, and the naming of Lynette The Chicken.

We laid railroad ties on the freshly-placed arena sand, cleaned arena rails and posts, painted wood cabinets and doors, sanded cavaletti, weeded the raised gardens, and moved the roundyard panels to make way for a new 10 foot gate.

Below are some photos of all the hard work! — with photography by the very talented Lindsey Lopez!

Our next V-Day will held in September.

Love and huge thanks to all!

Faith in the Lady

We are excited to announce the latest addition to Wilderwood: Lady Faith, a gorgeous 10-year-old palomino mare. Lady Faith comes to us through our rescue program and we are delighted to provide this gentle, beautiful mare her forever home with us.

Lady Faith

And the Winner Is … Wilderwood!

Hautism, Wilderwood’s documentary directed by Christopher Roybal at Incredible Films, has been recognized with an Award of Merit: Short Documentary/Disability Issues in the Best Shorts Film Festival, an international event.

We are so honored and grateful that the story of Wilderwood and autistic adults is receiving such exposure and recognition.