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

V-Day!

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.

Sand!

The arena sand has been delivered! Next step is raking and smoothing, then creating a sliding gate, and finally returning the railroad ties and letters back to the arena.

Introducing our Volunteer Coordinator

Wilderwood is proud to introduce and welcome our Volunteer Coordinator, Lindsey Lopez. Lindsey will be active in coordinating the schedules and training of our volunteers, as well as taking a leading role in Wilderwood’s special events. We are excited to have someone with Lindsey’s expertise and passion for involvement in the community, and are thrilled that she has chosen to take on this role with Wilderwood.

Here’s a little more about Lindsey:

Lindsey is a mom of a sweet little horse loving gal and two pups. Currently she works as a Professional Development Consultant at the University of New Mexico’s Center for Development & Disability. She has an educational background in Occupational Therapy, Holistic Health, Religious Studies, Public Health, and Early Childhood Education. She currently holds a Master’s Degree in Public Health, is a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant, a Certified Community Health Worker, and holds a Level II Infant Mental Health Endorsement. She has a background working as an Occupational Therapy provider within school based settings, Developmental Disability Waiver, Early Intervention, and working as a Center Director in a preschool setting of ages 0-5 years.

Lindsey enjoys giving back to the community in a variety of ways and in her spare time she enjoys hiking with her family and practicing Yoga. Her expertise is in building relationships, outreach, and as a lifelong learner. Among the many things about the fulfilling work at Wilderwood, she enjoys supporting the growth of this program to change the lives of so many within the community and beyond.

For more information about volunteering at Wilderwood, please see our Volunteers page at: https://wilderwoodequinetherapy.org/volunteer-days/

Lindsey Lopez, our new Volunteer Coordinator, getting some tips from Odie about Wilderwood.

What are you doing on Wednesday, May 26?

Are you a parent, grandparent, partner, or peer of an autistic person — or just want some insight into autism? Want to discuss real challenges and real solutions with people who know autism best?

So do we! Come and visit with the Ask an Autistic panel at Wilderwood on May 26 at 6:00 p.m. for the next Ask an Autistic event. Live and in-person, a panel of autistic adults are ready to hear and respond to your questions.

Seats are limited. Please RSVP and obtain tickets here.

WHEN:
Fourth Wednesday of each month
The next Ask an Autistic event is scheduled for Wednesday, May 26
WHERE:
Outdoor Classroom at Wilderwood Equine Therapy
7 Wildwood Lane
Peralta, NM 87042
TIME:
6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
COST:
$10 donation to Wilderwood

COVID-safe practices are in effect at Wilderwood’s events.