Gratitude

We are so enormously grateful to EquiSeq and Haw Creek Animal Hospital for their support of Wilderwood. Last month, EquiSeq and Haw Creek Animal Hospital staged a joint fundraiser that has raised $10,000 for Wilderwood.

Many of you know that Wilderwood adopted the beautiful palomino mare, Lady Faith, from EquiSeq. Faith has the condition PSSM2 n1/K1 and is the mare in which the K1 allele of COL6A3 was discovered through whole-genome sequencing.

Faith is an amazing addition to our home and program, and has fit in well with her new stablemates (two of whom also have PSSM2). Perhaps understandably, Wilderwood as part of its mission is committed to raising awareness about PSSM. Faith has a lifelong home with us, and we are honored to have her here.

At our Open Day on Saturday (more pictures to come soon), Faith permitted Odie, who had been dressed up as a Halloween skeleton for the occasion, to wear her recently won 6th place rosette ribbon. Faith placed in a photo competition held by the PSSM Awareness Foundation based in the UK!

#pssmawareness

On Therapy and Rescue

Wilderwood Equine Therapy and Rescue.

There’s a lot to that name. And, we’d like to take a moment to unpack it.

Wilderwood (waɪldərwʊd) comes from the name of our location, on Wildwood Lane. It is, therefore, pronounced wild-er-wood (not will-der-wood) as in a “wood that is wilder,” moreso than just ordinarily wild. It’s a play on words that captures not only a lighter side of us, one that enjoys word play and linguistic variance, but also reflects the deep love we have for this peaceful sanctuary we call our home.

Then there is the concept of Therapy and Rescue. What sort of therapy do we do? And what do we rescue? Of course, the word “equine” is prominent and our work naturally involves the magnificent horse. And yes, we do rescue horses – or, at least at this writing, one horse. Odie’s rescue story is outlined in other places, so we won’t repeat it here. What we will say is that whatever horse comes to Wilderwood is with us for life, and so our turnover is not very high.

We also see the word “rescue” as applying to people, too. All of us, no matter who we are, at some point in our lives will need some kind of help. For the very fortunate among us, this help may end after the helplessness of infancy. For many, the need for support is intermittent and fleeting, and yet for others it may last throughout a lifetime.

The precise support each of us needs depends on life events, circumstance, our personal history, physical and mental aptitude, ideals, beliefs, and hopes.  Because of this, we believe that the best and most potent predictor of successful therapy is the degree of connection between the recipient’s needs and what a particular therapist can provide.

The needs of those who seek therapy is a mosaic – though it could also be seen as a frenetic maelstrom – that has been cultivated by and culminates in lived experiences tempered by individual personality and different (dis)abilities.  Who is best to help with those needs? Who has the credentials, licensure, and qualifications? Perhaps the question is better posed to the recipient of the therapy who, faced with an array of choices, can weigh his or her needs with an educated understanding of what is being offered.

That brings us to the concept of “therapy.” This word is mired in a lot of ideological and cognitive weight. Put another way, there’s a lot of talk about “therapy” and who, what, and how is credentialed, licensed, qualified, or honored to provide it. In relation to equine therapy, there are those who claim it properly resides in the world of occupational, speech/language, or physical therapists, along with equine specialists, therapists, or teachers, medical practitioners such as psychologists, psychiatrists, and osteopaths, and other medical or mental health providers such as social workers, counselors, and clinicians.

We would say there’s a group that’s often left out of this list, and that is the horses themselves.

The truth is, it belongs to all of us. Those who perform therapy and enact a positive change in the recipient of that therapy, is by nature providing therapeutic benefit. The question becomes one of a person finding the best possible therapeutic environment for what he or she needs.

At Wilderwood, we have chosen to develop our therapeutic practices to best meet the needs of autistic adults and the horses we love. The qualifications of those who have developed the curriculum is grounded in multi-disciplinary theory and practice, including the fields of cognitive linguistics (itself a multi-disciplinary field blending psychology, philosophy, and linguistics); osteopathic medicine (particularly the biopsychosocial component of osteopathy); education (both andragogy and pedagogy); equine training and riding; psychology; philosophy; and – critically – autistic adults themselves.

Like any therapeutic intervention, our program is not for everyone. Despite our multi-disciplinary approach and the fact that Wilderwood is potentially open to anyone who wishes to apply, the recipient we have in mind is quite specific and focused: the two-thirds of autistic adults without intellectual disability who have been unheard and unassisted for years. This is their time and their place. The blending of philosophies of mind and body, along with the combined years of experience with teaching, medical, and equine practice has resulted in a program uniquely cast to offer therapy and rescue to those who wish to seek it from us.

Rebecca Evanko, B.A., M.A., Ph.D
Mark Evanko, B.Sc., D.O

For those who are interested in the theory behind the development of Wilderwood’s program, here is a list of some of the theorists and practitioners who have informed our work.

Tony AttwoodMichel FoucaultMichael Polanyi
Mikhail BakhtinPaulo FreireDiane Ravitch
Trudy BantaSigmund FreudMonty Roberts
Roland BarthesHenry GirouxEdward Said
Stephen BrookfieldEdmund HusserlRoger Simon
Noam ChomskyRoss JacobsEdward Soja
Catherine CromptonCarl JungA.T. Still
Jacques DerridaTania MarshallLev Vygotsky
John DeweyJean PiagetSharon Wilsie

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!

Raised Gardens Volunteer Day!

Raised Gardens Volunteer Day!

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! — to our WONDERFUL volunteers at Wilderwood’s recent Volunteer Day to Build the Raised Gardens! By name, we’d especially like to thank Jayme, Joe, and Lee Anne.

Thank you also to RockIt Stonescapes in Peralta for much appreciated discount and help with the gravel and your expert delivery! Thanks for your continued support of Wilderwood and belief in our mission.

Thank you, too, for those who signed up as interested, but were unable to come on the day. We didn’t quite get finished what we’d planned, so may be having another day soon to finish off. We’re getting so close now to opening for the pilot it’s very exciting! … but there are still some things to be done.

The Raised Gardens are an important part of Wilderwood’s curriculum, particularly the Preceptorship. We’re so excited to see another vision and dream become a reality!

For now, here’s to another successful Volunteer Day and our heartfelt thanks to our amazing volunteers. Here are some pictures to show the “Before” and “After” of the Raised Gardens.

Before and After images of the Raised Gardens

Getting Ready …

Getting Ready …

We’ve been busy at Wilderwood getting ready! Our next Volunteer Day is Saturday, November 2 on a “drop-in” basis. We’ll be working from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on building the Raised Gardens! We’ll also ask our amazing volunteers to help us with the last remnants of clean up (moving branches to the bonfire, hauling building materials to the truck).

Below are pictures of things we’ve been doing in the last month. The solar lights on the Wilderwood sign look amazing at night! The utility area (now chained/cordoned off) is a safe place to put needed tools and equipment to maintain the Wilderwood grounds. And, take a look at the video showing the horses checking out the new Round Yard. Desmond, of course, steals the show!

In other exciting news, we’ve been preparing our sign-up and informational materials for the upcoming Wilderwood Therapy Curriculum Pilot Program! This program is to help us test the curriculum as a “trial run” before we open officially in September 2020. There will be no fees involved for participants and the information and feedback we receive will be crucial to help make sure the curriculum is sound and ready to go!

Interested in the Pilot Program? Check out our Application Form on the homepage. Once we’ve received the form, we will contact you to discuss the program, your goals, and the ways in which Wilderwood may be able to help you.

The horses check out their new round yard. Desmond, of course, steals the show!

A Red Barn

A Red Barn

This week, we completed some much-needed painting and repairs on our barn. The difference is amazing! — with a huge WOW factor! We were very lucky to hire a painter who gave us a great price on this job, and the results have been marvelous. It has improved the functionality of the barn and created a wonderful aesthetic.

Take a look at the before and after photos, and we think you’ll agree. The horses seem to like it, too!

The red barn AFTER paint and repairs. Viv especially likes the purple hose, if his interest in it is any indication.
Same view, but the Before and After make an amazing contrast!
Before: A barn much in need of repair and paint.
The difference is incredible!

Fence Donation

Fence Donation

We are so grateful for any donation we receive at Wilderwood to support the work we and the horses do. Most recently, we were thrilled to receive the donation of labor to put up a much-needed fence.

Thank you to our wonderful donor! The old fence was falling down and had hazardous old, barbed wire — a safety issue for our horses, dogs, ourselves, and visitors. This new fence has made all the difference, not only in terms of safety but also practicality.

This new area, complete with gate, not only keeps curious horses safely at bay, it also means our raised garden area is ready to start building. Once completed, these raised gardens will provide visitors to Wilderwood the opportunity to grow, maintain, and participate in organic small-scale farming.