Horses for wellness
By Pamela Kleibrink Thompson, Photography by Jim Peterson
Eagle resident Diana Lincoln-Haye doesn’t horse around when treating her patients. Lincoln-Haye MS, LPC, NCC has loved and been around horses her entire life. Before moving to Eagle, she lived on a horse and cattle ranch in Kimberly, Idaho, for 27 years, so it was natural that when she became a counselor she would use horses in therapy with her patients. Prior to becoming a counselor, she owned a Diagnostic Sleep Center in Twin Falls for 14 years.
Lincoln-Haye moved to Eagle two years ago with her husband Stan Haye to be close to Nichole Rioux and Natasha Haye, two of her daughters. Lincoln-Haye has four children and two stepchildren. She helped raise an autistic grandson and when she found that riding was beneficial for him, she realized it might be helpful to others.
To learn about equine assisted therapy, Lincoln-Haye did an internship with Dr. Rand Gurley in Sandpoint, Idaho. Gurley specializes in trauma and equine assisted therapy. Lincoln-Haye earned a master’s degree in clinical counseling at Prescott College in Arizona.
“Equine Assisted Psychotherapy incorporates horses experientially for mental and behavioral health therapy and personal development,” explains Lincoln- Haye. “It is a collaborative effort between a licensed therapist who is a horse professional working with the clients and horses to address therapy goals.” Most insurance companies pay for equine assisted psychotherapy. Lincoln-Haye likes equine therapy because of “the joy that horses give people.”
Equine therapy is useful for patients of many different ages—clients as young as five have been helped by equine therapy. Activities such as grooming, feeding, haltering, and leading a horse are supervised by a mental health professional who is also a horse professional. “There are several aspects of cognitive/ equine-assisted therapy that work well with kids who have emotional and behavioral issues,” notes Lincoln- Haye. “One of the simplest aspects is diversion. When a young person is focused on grooming, feeding, or exercising a horse, his focus is no longer on his own issues and problems. Horses can even teach children how to behave respectfully.”
Older children benefit from interaction with horses too. “Troubled teens can be in a state of aggression, defiance, or anger. Using horse therapy with teens helps maintain a constant and healthy chemical balance. Horses provide troubled youth with an opportunity to learn how to control and work with animals. Learning how to work with horses will help them in their day-to-day lives as they deal and work with humans.”
Adults have also benefitted from equine therapy. “As adults it is important to know how to communicate,” states Lincoln-Haye. “Horses are wonderful teachers to help us better understand and learn how our nonverbal communication might be impacting or influencing others in our lives. Horses put us in touch with our emotions and keep us in the present.” Lincoln-Haye remembers a single mom and her two children who benefitted from equine therapy. She recalls, “[The patient] had been in an abusive relationship. Equine therapy gave her a feeling of trust to work with such a big but gentle horse and it gave her children the ability to express their fears in a safe environment.”
Four horses are utilized at Lincoln’s practice—Horses for Wellness—and Lincoln’s respect and love for all of them is easily evident, but one holds a particular place in her heart. “Hank is a 27-year-old blue paint horse,” says Lincoln-Haye. “We’ve had him his whole life. He’s a very gentle, intuitive horse.”
Lincoln-Haye is inspired by people who are resilient and are willing to work through whatever life throws at them. Others might be inspired by her because she has been through difficult times herself and she can relate to loss—she lost her 19-year-old daughter Lacey 8 years ago.
“I love my family, the outdoors and working. I believe in living fully and enjoying what you do,” says Lincoln-Haye. “I am inspired most by ordinary people who I have met over the years who do extraordinary things Idaho is full of those types of people.”
Lincoln-Haye enjoys living in Eagle with her family, which includes Moses, a lab/hound dog and two cats named Romeo and Juliet. She says, “There are so many choices of things to do, yet I don’t feel like I am in a big city. Plus there are so many outdoor choices that are close. I am also a rock climbing guide and love rock and ice climbing, which are also my passions. My husband Stan and I facilitate a three day rock climbing event for Veterans and their families at the City of Rocks in Almo Idaho every August, called Warriors Rock. I also love to camp, fish, and hike.”
Resource: Horses for Wellness