Healing Hooves Professionals - Two and Four legged
Sue McIntosh, MA, CCC
Sue McIntosh is the founder of Healing Hooves - offering Equine Facilitated Counselling, professional training and resources in Equine Facilitated Wellness (EFW), and Equine Facilitated Professional Development services and programs in Alberta for the past ten plus years.
Sue is a Certified Canadian Counsellor with a Masters Degree in Counselling. She also has additional training in animal assisted therapy (AAT), EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing) and in therapeutic riding. She has a lifetime experience working with horses including teaching therapeutic riding, training, starting young horses and competing. Over the past fifteen years Sue has worked with a number of well established EFW programs in the US and the UK. Sue is very active with North American organizations developing nationally recognized industry standards for training and practicing in this area of practice.
Sue has presented on EFW and other aspects of the human and animal bond at numerous conferences across Canada and has been interviewed on local and national radio, television and newspapers. Sue's research and articles are used in training initiatives worldwide. Two Episodes of the Canadian Discovery channel series "Healing with Animals" were filmed at Healing Hooves with Sue and her clients.
Sue is also a certified parent educator approved to facilitate the "Power to Parent" courses developed by internationally renowned developmental psychologist Dr Gordon Neufeld: www.gordonneufeld.com
Carolyn Shinners, RSW, BSW
Carolyn has been helping out at Healing Hooves over the past four years and joined our team more formally as a counsellor in 2011. A Registered Social Worker with a Bachelor's of Social Work, Carolyn is currently a Clinical Masters of Social Work Candidate.
Carolyn has had a lifelong relationship with horses working with them in various capacities over the past ten years. Carolyn has been focused on a career in equine facilitated wellness from the beginning of her post secondary education and has taken every opportunity to tailor her learning to animal assisted and equine facilitated work including presentations, research papers and as a specialisation for her clinical master's.
Prior to joining Healing Hooves Carolyn worked in a number of different counselling environments including at Ardrossan Dreamcatcher where she also participated in animal assisted work. We are excited to have Carolyn as a part of our team!
Sue Falkner March
Sue is the equine coach for Healing Hooves who supervises and guides our horses' training and wellbeing. Sue also leads the horsemanship days that make up a key part of the Healing Hooves focus training.
Sue is a Level III Centred Riding Instructor who studied under Sally Swift, a Connected Riding Practitioner, and an Advanced T-TEAM practitioner and instructor. The horsemanship approaches taught by Sue form an integral part of all of our programs at Healing Hooves and fit exceptionally well with our counselling approach and philosophy. For more information see our article "Watching Paint Dry".
Equine FacilitatorsAt Healing Hooves the horses are far more than 'tools', they are a key part of the counselling team, who bring themselves and their innate nature to the counselling relationship. It is our hypothesis that the three conditions stated by the Person Centered Counselling approach as required for therapeutic growth to arise - genuineness, unconditional positive regard and empathy - are provided by horses as a part of their innate nature, in a manner us human counsellors can only strive to achieve.
Many of the animal partners at Healing Hooves have experienced violence, abuse, loss and discouragement in their lives. They all have their own personal stories which have led them to Healing Hooves and have helped to shape them into the wonderful co-counsellors that they are. We find that our clients are able to relate to the horses they work with here and everyone usually finds that special horse (or dog or cat or rabbit .) who truly seems to understand and care about where you have been and what you are facing. To ensure the safety of our clients all of the animals at Healing Hooves undergo extensive training and assessment prior to being integrated into the program, but this does not make them 'perfect' any more than a human can be 'perfect'; They all have their own wonderful strengths and challenges that help make them truly unique.
Read about each of our animal partners below:
Skye is an 21 year old half Arabian gelding and the leader of the herd at Healing Hooves. He is a very gentle leader who takes his job of keeping his herd members safe and all together very seriously. He is a very sensitive horse and seems to know when someone needs a hug or extra special care. He can also be quite anxious and has lots of things he is quite scared of. He is especially scared of vets and needles, but can also be scared of things like loud noises and seeing new things for the first time. In his last home Skye was picked on by the other horses in his field. Because of his own fears and past experiences Skye seems to especially understand when someone is scared, sad or hurting and is able to help people work these fears through. He has gone from the horse who was scared and bullied to the leader of the herd, and he likes to help people find this potential in themselves too.
Dubh (pronounced "Doo") is a 22 year old conemarra/ thoroughbred cross. He was previously a very successful three day eventing horse competing at the intermediate level in the US. He was pony of the year in the US in his younger day. Dubh was retired from jumping for behavioural problems (we think he ran too fast!) so he understands how it feels for many of our clients who may have been told they have a 'bad attitude'. Dubh is a lot calmer now and has settled in well in the herd - he is starting to relax and to enjoy just being a horse rather than an athlete, but he still loves to run! Dubh has very firm opinions about things and is not usually sacred to express these - in this way he is very good a teaching people to communicate clearly and to tell each other how they feel about things. Dubh is also great at teaching people how they impact others and for helping people learn how to be assertive. Read more about Dubh in our therapeutic stories including "The Bestest Pony in the World" and "One More Day with Penny".
Disa and Oli are Icelandic horses. Although small (Disa is 13hh and Oli is 13.2hh - yes he is now bigger than Mom!) they are very strong. Some Icelandic horses can carry over 200lbs! They are also very quiet, gentle and friendly and love meeting new people - especially children. Disa is especially good for younger children and for people who are nervous of horses and is good at helping people feel safe. Her youngest rider was only a year old! Oli is now six (born May 2006) and has recently just branched out on his own in a wonderful home in Grand Prairie. We keep in touch and love to hear how he is doing, but we do miss him! Read more about Disa in our therapeutic stories: "One more Day with Penny", The Bestest Pony in the World, and "Molly and Cutie's Run".
Cutie is a fourteen year old Shetland pony who joined Healing Hooves in September 2008. Cutie can be quite timid at first and needs us to be very gentle with him - he is only 37 and a half inches tall so almost everyone he meets is bigger than him! Cutie is great at teaching us that it is OK and normal to sometimes feel scared, but at the same time it is sometimes worthwhile finding the courage to overcome that fear to reach out to people (and to horses!) As Cutie is spending more time at Healing Hooves he is gradually discovering and trusting that the world can be a safe and good place to be a part of.
Cutie is the star of many of our therapeutic stories that we love to share with our clients - often with Cutie reading along beside us! Our favourite describes how many children see Cutie: "The Bestest Pony in the World"
Mocha is a 12 year old Morgan mare who underwent some training and rehabilitation at Healing Hooves to help her learn to trust again. Mocha is very willing to learn new things and likes meeting new people - as long as they are gentle and patient with her! She is very good at helping people explore issues around trust and respect.
Mocha has recently found a wonderful new home with a former client of Healing Hooves. She is loving having her one very special 'human' all to herself and is doing really well in her new home.
Harris is eleven years old. We're pretty sure he's a cat but he's not too sure. When he was a kitten he seemed to think he was a parrot as he liked to sit up on your shoulder - he still tries to do this even though he weighs at least 12 lbs! His other favourite thing to do is to snuggle up on the couch in the barn on someone's knee. He also likes to play. When we have groups here he always makes sure that he visits everyone, moving from knee to knee, and especially likes to be with the person who is talking at the time. When people are nervous meeting the horses Harris often turns up to give them some moral support. Read more about Harris and the other cats at Healing Hooves in our Therapeutic Stories including "Amanda's Animals" and "The Magic Horse Hair"
Lewis is Harris's half brother and is the most laid back and gentle cat we have ever met! He likes it best when you hold him in your arms as if he was a baby and often falls asleep this way purring very loudly! He is a bit shy when there are groups of people here (will go and hide up in the hay loft) and prefers meeting people one at a time. Lewis is especially gentle and reassuring with people who are nervous about animals or about coming to counseling. Read more about Lewis and the other cats at Healing Hooves in our Therapeutic Stories, including "Amanda's Animals" and "The Magic Horse Hair".
Russ is Lewis and Harris's father and they are still working out some father son issues. They are actually very similar in personality (not that they would admit it!) They all love attention and can sometimes get a bit competitive about who gets to sit on your knee. Russ was a bit of a wanderer and got into lots of fights when he was a young cat but since he has settled down at Healing hooves has become a big gentle snuggle cat.
Duggur is a ten year old icelandic gelding who joined the Healing Hooves team when he was five. Dyggur is very friendly and loves to meet new people - when he is not brought in during a session he hangs his head over the gate looking sad until he persuades you to bring him in for a hug. He is about 14hh which is big for an icelandic horse but he is very gentle and quiet. Read more about Dyggur in our therapeutic stories including "One More Day with Penny"
Jack came from the humane society. He used to live in the city and didn't do too well there as he didn't like being kept in a small city yard and used to escape, chase bikes and get himself into lots of trouble. He is much happier at Healing Hooves where he has lots of space, gets to run around and meets lots of new people. He loves hugs and attention and has appointed himself the official welcoming committee for whenever anyone arrives. He is terrified of thunder though and always goes to hide under the desk in the basement. We always know when a storm is coming by Jack trying to get into the house!
You can read more about Jack in the story "Jack and Abby" one of our therapeutic stories for adolescents and adults. He also stars in a number of our Therapeutic Stories for children including "Amanda's Animals" and The Magic Horse Hair".