The Wilderwood horses, especially Desmond and Vivaldi, are more than happy to show off their playful side. These images were caught this week of Desi, Vivi, Odie, and Rae.




We are so incredibly grateful for the generosity of others: this week, receipt of another scholarship grant (!) as well as a donation of beautiful saddles, saddle racks, and assorted tack and equipment from the lovely Jan and Allan Herrbach. Amazing donors who believe in this mission and its goals. We are beyond blessed.

Our Volunteer Training is on target to be delivered from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on February 20, and we are already receiving applications for our program that will begin in March.


Very proud and excited to announce that our article, “Hautism,” has been published in PATH International’s Strides! magazine.

A couple of editorial corrections … Wilderwood is located in Peralta, New Mexico (not “Peralita”) and even though our preference is to refer to autistic people (not people with autism), the editorial house-style of the magazine was used instead.

The School of Lightness

The School of Lightness

We are very fortunate here at Wilderwood as we bring along Vivaldi and Desperado (Viv and Des) to be receiving assistance from instructor James Riedeman, one of only a handful of licensed instructors in the USA in the principles of the Ecole de Légèreté (trans. the “School of Lightness”).

Here is a video that features our instructor James (among others) participating in the Teachers’ Course for Ecole de Légèreté last fall in California. We are so lucky to have this opportunity to work with James and learn this beautiful way of developing a gentle, light, and lovely partnership with our horses.

Watch instructors from the Ecole de Légèreté (“School of Lightness”)
Vivaldi and Desmond in the beautiful dawn light after an early morning training session in the roundyard.

The Piloteers

The Piloteers

We have just finished an amazing Pilot program with wonderful participants! Lots of useful and practical input and the incredibly valuable opportunity to “test run” many of the curriculum’s activities by and for the people who will be completing the program.

For three hours each week over six weeks, our participants attended every session and gave the curriculum a rigorous going-through with enthusiasm, grace, and commitment.

The horses also enjoyed meeting their new friends!

We are now starting the task of textbook and program revisions based on this input and then moving into the next exciting stage: recruiting participants and volunteers for 2021 and starting the program!

Watch this space! — and a HUGE thank you to our Piloteers 2020. We love you all and are very thankful to you!

Opening the Pilot


Wilderwood’s Pilot program opened on June 20. We are so appreciative of the participants who are piloting the curriculum and providing incredibly valuable insight to strengthen it with their contributions and ideas.

We were also honored to have visitors to Wilderwood on our opening Pilot day as well: Congresswoman Xochitl Torres Small and Board Member Linda Stover came by to discuss our innovative program and view Wilderwood. The horses were on their best behavior and it was a beautiful New Mexico summer day.

What an auspicious start for Wilderwood!

Congresswoman Xochitl Torres Small, Wilderwood Board Member Linda Stover, and Dr. Mark Evanko discuss Wilderwood Equine Therapy’s program and tour the facility on the opening day of the Pilot.
Congresswoman Xochitl Torres Small, Wilderwood Board Member Linda Stover, Field Representative Kayla Laywell, Dr. Mark Evanko, and Dr. Rebecca Evanko discussing Wilderwood’s unique program for and by autistic adults on the opening day of the Pilot Program.
Congresswoman Xochitl Torres Small, Wilderwood Board Member Linda Stover, Dr. Mark Evanko, and Dr. Rebecca Evanko and the Pilot participants at Wilderwood on the opening day of the Pilot Program.


Wilderwood Documentary is a go!

We are delighted to announce that Wilderwood has been awarded a grant to assist us in making a film documentary featuring one of our program participants!

We are enormously thankful for the generosity of the granting Foundation and look forward to the development of this project.

More on this soon. Exciting!

Image Credit: Steven Van, Unsplash



The core of Wilderwood is its equine-assisted curriculum to work therapeutically with autistic teens and adults. By therapeutically, we mean in its original sense of the word: to heal, to restore health — whole body health encompassing elements of the physical, psychological, sociological, philosophical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual — from Greek therapeutikos, which in turn is from therapeuein, meaning “to attend” or “to treat.”

And, our horses are integral to all the therapeutic and rescue work we do at Wilderwood.

That brings us to the “rescue” component of our work. We consider this word in more ways than one. Whether it’s “rescue” for an autistic person relating to restoring or improving his or her sense of dignity, self-worth, and esteem, or it’s “rescue” for a horse to come to Wilderwood and assist us in the delivery of our program, the goal is the same: To provide a place of peace and healing; of discovering (or re-discovering) a sense of joy and happiness in living.

Part of our mission involves education through our curriculum for and to autistic teens and adults — as well as educating non-autistic people about our perspective on and about autism itself. It also involves educating people about horses and how incredible these animals are, including the innate connection or parallels between horses and autistic people, for which we have coined a term: Hautism.

Tragically, many autistic adults who are part of the “Lost Generation” feel a sense of abandonment and unwantedness, much of which is attributable to no diagnosis (or late diagnosis) and having experienced years of rejection, not fitting in, and being mislabeled and misunderstood. We find a kinship in horses who have also been set aside, unwanted, and abandoned.

Unlike many other horse rescues, any horse who is “rescued” to come and live with us at Wilderwood will not be trained for rehoming or selling. Due to our size limitations, we can only feasibly care for five horses at a time. When one passes on, we will likely replace that horse with one more.

When that time comes to add another horse to Wilderwood’s stable, in keeping with our mission we often look for those horses who are unwanted, rejected, and need the love and stability of a place of peace and healing. This is the component of our “rescue” for horses. One at a time, when we are able — and on the absolute condition that such a rescue horse will live out his or her days, however long or short that may be, here with us: loved, wanted, cared for, cherished, usefully contributing, and being an integral part of all we do.

The word “rescue,” to us, evokes the concept of keeping from being lost or abandoned, and is imbued with love, care, compassion, healing, spirit, and joy.

One at a time, whether human or horse, and in our own small ways in this enormous world and universe, we strive to make a difference and believe that this is something of which every one of us is capable, should we choose to do so.

Odie, rescued from a Louisiana Kill Pen, before and after.