I started volunteering at SRoL in May of 2020, when my friends asked me to come volunteer with them and spend some time with horses, convincing me it would be a fun way to spend a Saturday afternoon. I never expected that one afternoon of cleaning, making feed, and grooming horses would turn into a regular occurrence, and more significantly: the best part of my week, every week. In a tumultuous senior year filled with uncertainty due to the pandemic and stress induced by college applications and online school, I found Spring Reins of Life to be the one constant in my life. Each time I came to volunteer, the time I spent with the animals (Mif in particular) somehow managed to make all my worries, stress, and impending deadlines vanish, at least for a few hours. In just 20 minutes of grooming Mif or Gloria, or simply just standing next to them, I felt an inner sense of stillness and calmness, my mind clear. That’s one of the best parts about SRoL; it’s so far removed from the hectic feel of daily life. Sometimes it feels like a world of its own. Even my mom took notice of how I would often leave for the barn a frantic ball of teenage stress and return tranquil and smiling from ear to ear, eager to share a story of something fantastic that happened that day (for instance, when I finally managed to successfully get Mif on cross ties without her first leading me around in a circle 3 times). I have also learned some invaluable lessons throughout my time volunteering here. For instance, in the beginning, as much as I was enchanted by Mif, I would always get nervous whenever I got close to her, and she, of course, could sense that. Over time I learned to control my breathing (through box breathing) and center myself, showing her that we could trust each other. It’s a lesson that’s translated to other areas of my life as well. In the moments before my state championship race and the final rounds of a national neuroscience competition, I thought back to the times that I led and grazed Mif, and focused on centering my breathing. I’ve also personally met some of the veterans with PTS who have gone through SRoL’s program, many of whom will attest that the horses here changed or even saved their lives. The progress these individuals have made here through equine therapy really is a miracle. CC is also by far one of the most incredible people I’ve had the privilege of meeting. I never fail to draw inspiration from the passion and work ethic she brings every single day. I’m so thankful that by some stroke of luck I found the rare gem that is SRoL. I’m so proud and grateful to be a small part of this magical place
I was an intern for this organization over the summer and it was so much fun being able to document videos and pictures that portrayed the huge impact these animals have in the community. This is truly a beautiful concept and the organization does so much for those who struggle and I encourage those who may need it to try and give them a shot!
I have supported this great organization as part of a group from Starbucks on multiple occasions. I've found the time we spent here very rewarding. I plan to return again. Highly recommended
THANK YOU! We welcome you and your team back anytime! Very hard workers offering so much help and having fun while doing it. By the way, THIS is a great picture - the look on Miss Molly's face is just funny. She is the 2019 Therapy Animal of the Year! (NJ Dept of Veterans Affairs). xo
Having personally experienced the ongoing healing power of relationships with equines I am aware of the great therapeutic effect they have on the Veterans and others served by this great organization. The professionals, as well as all the equines, of Spring Reins of Life are very dedicated to those that have so dedicated themselves to the service of our Great Nation as well as all the others that also participate.
Having personally experienced the healing power of relationships with equines I am aware of the great effect they have on the Veterans they serve. The professionals as well as the equines of Spring Reins of Life are very dedicated to those that have so dedicated themselves to the service of our Great Nation.
Great organization that promotes healing to veterans and at-risk youth using horses and donkeys. I volunteered with a group of co-workers from The Starbucks Coffee Company for the community. Immediately we were put to work cleaning cobwebs, pulling weeds, and other assigned tasks. The Executive Director and her staff are caring, knowledgeable and professional. The horses are beautiful animals, especially Dane. We are planning to return to the barn to help fulfill SRoL's mission.
Thank you so much! We have loved having local support from Starbucks! Your team is a great help, especially the fellow who did not mind and did an outstanding job cleaning the bathrooms! Thank you.
I’ve known Christianna Capra 50 years.
Christianna’s commitment to make the world a better place started long before Spring Reins of Life. God bless you Christianna the stories you tell of mucking in below freezing temperatures through your struggles and toughest times can only lead the good times.
Straw’s story and legacy changes lives.
You made it happen Chris.❤️
Thank you so much Sherwin, your supportive and kind words mean a lot from the inside. Blesssings, SRoL
Thank you so much Sherwin. It is a labor of love. Retirement plan at this point is to acquire our own farm to call a permanent home. Became addicted to witnessing miracles somewhere around 2012 and from there it has been a one way ticket/road to keeping this mission alive and functioning. Have the grace to have witnessed hundreds of miracles since then. None of them diminishing in greatness bc of quantity. Each time the horses touch someone's life, marriage, self-esteem and that leads to healing and recovery - it is unique and humongous! Very much an addict. Will do anything to keep it coming in. Even a 17 month forced shut down will not cure the addiction.
Thank you so much Sherwin. It is a labor of love. Retirement plan at this point is to acquire our own farm to call a permanent home. Became addicted to witnessing miracles somewhere around 2012 and from there it has been a one way ticket/road to keeping this mission alive and functioning. Have the grace to have witnessed hundreds of miracles since then. None of them diminishing in greatness bc of quantity. Each time the horses touch someone's life, marriage, self-esteem and that leads to healing and recovery - it is unique and humongous! Very much an addict. Will do anything to keep it coming in. Even a 17 month forced shut down will not cure the addiction. CC
This is a labor of love. Retirement plan at this point is to acquire our own farm to call a permanent home. Became addicted to witnessing miracles somewhere around 2012 and from there it has been a one way ticket/road to keeping this mission alive and functioning. Have the grace to have witnessed hundreds of miracles since then. None of them diminishing in greatness bc of quantity. Each time the horses touch someone's life, marriage, self-esteem and that leads to healing and recovery - it is unique and humongous! Very much an addict. Will do anything to keep it coming in. Even a 17 month forced shut down will not cure the addiction. CC
A great place to be! Wonderful experts in equine therapy that truly care and want to do the work. Extremely caring environment, that you will learn a lot at! All the animals are lovely to work with as well! One of my favorite places to be, I could be here everyday if I could!
Thank you so much Sam! You are always welcome here.
I felt led to Spring Reins in the Fall of 2020 and a felt deep connection as soon as I arrived. ! I was so grateful to have supported visitors, participants and veterans behind the scenes by maintaining the spaces where the “animal therapists” call their home. Their lead caretaker, Christianna Capra (aka CC), is like no other and I’m in awe of her tireless dedication and thoughtfulness of the health of the animals and to all she serves. I needed to suspend my volunteer efforts earlier this year, but am looking forward to coming back this Fall and rejoining “the herd” to continue to support Spring Reins of Life’s impactful work.
Thank you Anne for such support and kind comments. Your help was and is always appreciated. YAY, so happy to hear you will be back to yield a pitchfork, shovel, offer donkey hugs, and talk to Redcat! Cant wait to hear about your adventures this past summer. Thank you again!
I came to the SRoL farm with little experience working with horses, and even less experience working on a farm. However, within months I got to know these horses as intimately as you would a friend. Not only was I taught about the anatomy and behavior of these animals, but I began to understand who they are as living beings. I find great fulfillment in volunteering every Saturday morning, and I cannot count the amount of times coming to the farm has brightened my mood on a rainy day. CC is incredibly skilled, and it shows in her work, intuition, and thought process. I would highly recommend SRoL to those I know!
I've volunteered with Spring Reins of Life on two occasions so far and I can't wait to go back. The passion that CC brings to her work is infectious and I was so moved and inspired hearing about how her horses have helped children and veterans. I look forward to volunteering in the future knowing that my help enables CC and her team to bring positive change to so many lives.
I moved to NJ from NY in December of 2020. I found SpringReinsOfLife on the volunteer site. It made my move here so much happier. Animals are my thing and the farm is not only a wonderful place for these animals but the work that is done here is like a miracle. I recently met a vet from the war who came home with terrible PSD. These horses saved his life. I'e heard many such stories since. This place deserves praise and thankfulness.
As a woman Marine Corps veteran with severe PTSD, MST, suicidal ideation, and a history of severe self harm, I have been fortunate to experience the healing that happens through Spring Reins of Life (SRoL).
I attended the Equine therapy programs first through the Women’s Treatment Unit at the Lyons VA on a monthly basis and subsequently through an 8 week program veteran group.
The SRoL equine herd, with the help of facilitators Christianna Capra (CC) and Dr. Maria Katsamanis (Dr. Maria), saved my life. Not figuratively but literally. I would not be alive if it was not for the healing that occurred in this unique psychotherapy environment.
My PTSD symptoms at the time left me feeling anxious, damaged, numb, empty, angry, and suicidal, to name a few. Then I met a horse named Molly. She was the first sentient being who interacted with me because she wanted to, not because she was obligated to. That continued interaction and developing relationship helped to gradually change my perspective to one of “maybe there is something in me that is still good or worthwhile”.
I continued to attend the therapy sessions with the herd and with the help CC and Dr. Maria’s guidance, I began to slowly start to feel for the first time in several years. The suicidal ideation slowing began to go away, my anxiety was gone while I was with the horses, and I was able to feel love for Molly and my 12 year old son again. I started to feel HOPE for the first time in at least 5 years. I cannot explain it exactly but horses are healing creatures. They see you, not your symptoms hiding who you are.
The environment at SRoL is nurturing, laid back, and fun (when appropriate). I was immediately at ease when I arrived, I was never pushed to do anything I was not comfortable with or did not want to do. I had one bad experience horseback riding years prior to attending equine therapy and was absolutely terrified of them. CC was instrumental in explaining the basic rules of interacting with horses in a way that I could understand, feel comfortable, and keep myself safe. I trusted Dr. Maria immediately, inherently understanding that she would never judge me, anything I did, or shared about my past actions or current feelings. I very quickly came to trust CC as well.
What I thought was the end of the road for me, turned out to be the beginning of a very rewarding recovery process. I will forever be grateful that SRoL available when I so desperately need this therapy.
The work done by SRoL is nothing short of inspiring. This is a great nonprofit organization with a fantastic mission. The volunteers, board, and Executive Director, CC, in particular, are all people who truly care about helping to heal those affected by grief or trauma. The positive impact to the community and people they serve, is immeasurable. This is a five star organization all around.
SRoL does very compassionate, inspiring work: helping to heal those whose lives have been affected by deep grief or trauma. I'm a volunteer, and it's an incredibly rewarding experience for me.
Thank you so much Mindy! We are also very rewarded by your ongoing support and dedication to this mission. EVEN after you moved farther away.
I met CC many years ago and have joined her each year for her fund raising events, and demos at the ranch. I know from all of the years that I know her, that the work she does absolutely works. The horses can actually read people. That may be hard to understand but it’s true. I’ve listened to Veterans get up and share their stories and it just brings tears to my eyes. One veteran actually said if it were not for Spring Reins of life, he would not be here today. CC is one of the hardest working women I have ever known. She also has a dedicated staff that are always there to help out. It’s easy to see why this works if you just spend a day with her and her horses. I’m certain it will save many Veterans because it allows them to be in charge of something in their life and just learn to relax and breathe with a horse. The horse will do the rest, they are like soldiers themselves, all ready for duty. Please if you are in need of help, contact Spring Reins of Life, you will never regret it! I am so proud of them, and honored to be a part of everything she does to help the people in need.
Thank you so much Carol! It is a support that you give that keeps us with chin up when times get challenging. We realize that this mission is life-saving to those we serve, but it is also empowering for those who support. That puts fuel in the energetic tank. Thank you for your dedicated love and caring for over 5 years now!
I've volunteered at Spring Reins of Life and can honestly say the experience has been wonderful. The horses know their job and bring an amazing connection to healing with those who are lost and need to find their way back. Even as a volunteer I have experienced it myself! I hope more veterans become aware of the program and get to take advantage of the calmness that comes from interacting with these magnificent horses that Spring Reins of Life offers. Peace and recovery from trauma for those who are suffering is there.
A few months ago I became a volunteer for Spring Reins of Life. This amazing Nonprofit works with our US veterans and children who benefit from one of the most powerful healing beings we've been blessed with. Horses! Recently I was able to see for myself the direct, positive effect this has on those in need of a peaceful, safe and healing environment through the direct connection with these magnificent horses. I am so fortunate to have the chance to be a small part of Spring Reins of Life!
I have had the pleasure of attending a number of workshops at SROH. The leaders are caring, knowledgable and professional. The horses are nothing short of magical.
This type of therapy should be available to anyone who can learn and grow by being in the presence of a horse.
I am a volunteer with Spring Reins of Life and consider myself so fortunate to be able to contribute to an organization that changes the lives of trauma survivors. The volunteers and the horses are dedicated and amazing, as are the clients who take the chance to improve their lives.
Spring Reins of Life (SROL) is a fantastic organization that really gives back to the community and the people that need it the most. Therapy and processing of trauma is not a one size fits all approach and SROL provides a unique and effective service where other modalities may lack. I've seen and met personally the people whose lives were not just positively impacted, but forever changed because of what they experienced at SROL.
I am not a recipient to the benefits that Spring Reins of Life offers. I am a volunteer and have been helping with their events for over six years now. I have seen first-hand on many occasions the IMMEDIATE impact the horses have with veterans. Here is an example. At the most recent Open House and Annual Demo Day, CC and her staff selected four veterans from the crowd to join her where the horses were. The horses were off in the distance. CC told the veterans to choose any horse they desired and just try to become acquainted with the animal. At first, when each veteran approached a horse, the horse would walk or run away. As this was going on, CC explained to the crowd the process of how these horses and veterans get to know each other. How the horse 'senses' the fears and emotions that the veterans may have. After approximately 20 minutes, each veteran had his selected horse standing right by his side and not moving! It totally blew me away! And I've been privy to these demos for quite some time now, and each time I see it, I am touched. THIS PROCESS WORKS! Any and all veterans who need help coping with their daily life should seek out this FREE and amazing service offered by Spring Reins of Life
Danny! Danny boy! We are so grateful that you are part of the SRoL Family! Not sure if you volunteered or we commandeered but either way you are here, and you show up every year (and when we have a winter funeral/medal of honor, etc). Your voice, your talents, your immensely expanding heart for both humans and animals are what make you a perfect fit for SRoL. But that makes sense to us bc you are "That Oneness Guy"! Thank you so much for supporting our events, yes AND for joining our Veterans Committee in 2019! We need your enthusiasm for helpful measures and your patriotism for Operation Horse. THANK YOU!
I was first introduced to SRoL about 3 or 4 years ago. As a singer/songwriter and activist I have shared songs of mine that relate directly to our U.S. Veterans over the years to many non-profit organizations. I have also shared my heart and soul and continue to do so for the plight of our veterans is very near and dear to me as I continue to advocate for them.
Christianna Capra (CC) reached out to me when she heard that I was a singer/songwriter who advocates for our veterans and asked if I would perform at a fundraiser for SRoL. Well needless to say, I accepted the invitation with an open heart and mind. I was so curious to see and learn how these beautiful animals could help our veterans struggling with PTSD as I was not familiar with Equine Assisted Psychotherapy at that time. I immediately became close friends with CC as the passion and love that she shows for her horses and the veterans they're helping is contagious. I have spoken to many veterans who have benefited from spending time with these horses and they all share the same love for the service and especially the horses. We all know and see that the suicide rate for veterans has been climbing steadily for years now. I'm here to say that EAP WORKS! If you know of a veteran who is struggling PLEASE SEND HIM OR HER TO SRoL!.
Since that initial fundraiser I consider myself a member of the SRoL family as I've taken part in many of their events and fundraisers that have followed. CC's team of volunteers all share that same passion that she has and it's a such a heartwarming treat to see people who care so much about helping other people.
I became a participant when I heard about the program being offered at a monthly Rolling Thunder National meeting. I spoke to CeCe Capra, the angel behind this particular program, stepped into the arena with four loose horses I'd never seen before. I hadn't been around horses since I was about 11-12 years old and then only briefly. To say it was intimidating about sums up the first few minutes but soon I saw there was no signs of danger. I was able to approach these animals and see what would happen. I felt a particular attraction to a thoroughbred named Syriana, called her Syri for short. I know the breed to be high strung. I remembered as a kid watching all the western hero's and being amazed at their horses and how intelligent they were (the horses, not the actors so much). I envisioned all the wild bronco busting they did to saddle break and tame the animal but was also reminiscent of how the Indians were portrayed by socializing with their horses rather than "break" their spirit. I decided to try that approach. I just kept going to Syri and talking softly to her, trying to stroke her head. She didn't like that and mocked bit at me to let me know. I didn't let that bother me, I just kept walking up to her and talking to her. That went on for a few weeks, watching her be more calm and allowing me to stroke her neck (still not her face). After a few weeks I felt I was being accepted by the herd as they all would approach me for a pet or two. CeCe told me to watch them all the time. Try to feel what they might be feeling, communicating with them silently, becoming a "herd member". It was an awesome feeling. One session was about placing a horse in a halter. Patients 0, horses 6 (number of veterans in the group) and not a one was haltered. About the third week Syri would stand still with me talking to her and stroking her neck. CeCe said that she could be anywhere in that large arena we were in but she preferred to stay by me. At that point I realized something had changed and I felt a connection with Syri that's inexplicable. On the last session I was able to halter Syri with no problem, something CeCe said was remarkable as she normally gave anyone trying to halter her a hard time. I worked with Syri in tangent with another mare, a quarter horse, haltering them both and leading them around as they grazed. Syri is like number 2 in the pecking order after Dane, then comes Molly and then Mif. I had Mif with Syri and was grazing them toghether. They normally stay well clear of each other but I had them grazing side by side within inches of each other, another amazing feeling because they wouldn't be doing that unless they felt perfectly safe. After that I was just standing in the paddock with CeCe and the horses and Syri as standing next to me like a Labrador Retriever, wanting me to stroke her face (wonder of wonders) and neck. She nuzzled me and just showed such positive feelings. Her doing that unleashed a torrent of emotions from me. I can't describe it but I felt Syri told me it's ok to forgive myself for what I've been feeling , all the guilt I carry because of what I saw and had to do in combat 51 years ago. I could never talk about that to anyone but I didn't have to say anything to Syri, she just knew. Call me crazy but I experienced it and I'm sure so many other combat vets have also from this or similar programs. I will always carry this memory of Syri and CeCe being so intent on helping me in any way they could. What a worthwhile and indeed "magical" experience it was. Just so grateful to have experienced this remarkable program.
Thank you Ray. While it is so moving and empowering for us, we do not feel it is an ask to have participants comment about our work anywhere. It is private. When a client does voice their experience on their own - well that is candy for us bc it puts back into perspective why we do what we do. Thank you for tears to read this, thank you for being strong. Thank you for giving the Herd a chance. THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE. You are one strong, tough Marine! You also have a large loving and protective heart. It is our purpose to provide a space where the horses can let you SEE that for yourself. It was there when you walked in our arena gate, the horses made it obvious to you. We are always here for you and you are always welcome.
I have been volunteering with this program since April this year and have been nothing short of blessed in every way. I may be the volunteer but I am benefiting from my involvement more than I could ever repay in work. It is therapeutic for me just to be around CC and her healing herd, so I feel honored to contribute in a small way to the success of a program that helps such deserving groups humanity. our youth and our veterans deserve our best and SROL is among the high quality of services that we should provide to our fellow humans suffering from the darker sides of humanity. Thank you CC and the Herd for being such a beautiful source of healing light in this world!
Spring Reins of Life is a wonderful organization with whom to work. CC and the other volunteers were great and really pulled together to make events succesful and fun! I'm so glad I got to be a part of different aspects of the organizaton, from big fundraising events, to session demos, to helping with horse management. As someone in the veterinary field, I'm honored to have been able to help the Herd: the most amazing, gentle, wise group of animals I've ever has the pleasure of working with. Through Spring Reins of Life, the work CC and the Herd do is so important, and I hope she continues to make a positive difference in the lives of those that need and extra nuzzle from a fuzzy muzzle!
This organization makes such a difference in the lives of its clients. I have been on the At-Risk Youth Advisory Board for only a short period of time but it's something that I am so passionate about already. Talk therapy does not work for everyone and that is why the horses become great therapeutic tools in the lives of so many. You cannot hide emotions with these horses because they have the ability to mirror you, which helps clients to be true with how they really feel. They are truly amazing, healing animals.
Thank you Lisa! We have enjoyed watching you grow along with us! So proud of your accomplishments as an MH Pro. SRoL is getting ready to expand and ramp up our Teens Trauma work, so the Teen Committee will be more active in 2019-20, will be so grateful to have your input and support moving that forward. Thank you for joining the Herd.
I am United state veteran that has attended this program and I can honestly can say that this program and these people and horses have helped me immensely more so then the VA offers. They have shown me a better way if life through the passion of horsemanship. They have given me a hope fora better tomorrow despite the trauma I have suffered in combat and think these people and horses as well as the sponsors them to be able to continue their work to help other fellow veterans like myself
It’s a long story how I found myself here, but I knew after that first volunteering day with Spring Reins of Life in April 2015 I wanted to come back. I was immediately drawn to the story of how SRoL came to be, the herd, the humans, and the client groups served. I felt that something special was happening here and I was eager to be a part of it. I believe animals posses tremendous healing qualities but these horses take that to levels that blow my mind. How they know what to do for these clients in each situation is nothing short of amazing and magical in my opinion. These sessions are impacting the clients on the deepest level, truly changing their lives and helping them grow and heal. It doesn’t get any better than that. The bigger this group gets the more clients can be served. I feel honored and lucky to be part of the SRoL volunteer corps in raising awareness for this important work, to help care for this very special herd and be surrounded by amazing passionate people.
I have been a volunteer with Spring Reins of Life for almost four years. The work the horses and people do is life saving! I have heard stories from countless clients about the way horses help heal them. I look forward to continuing to support this therapy.
Kristin! (and Kevin who I doubt will get online). THANK YOU. It was such a tidal wave of blessing when the Rossi's walked through our barn doors (4 barns ago). What can we say, where to start. You are a pillar here, been through the thick of the thickest dark nights, and the transitions, and the growth, and the losses, and the additions. You are SRoL Family. Do not know what we would do, or where we'd be, without your support and devotion. THANK YOU! PS: You are the oldest, longest surviving SRoL Volunteer. Not sure what you want to make of that, but Thank You again!
I have been with this organization for just over two years. I can honestly say that it has given me more than I could ever give to it. I can't even count the number of times I hear people rave about the work they do and the lives they save. It is magical to be a part of the process. Kristin Rossi
Spring Reins of Life is an amazing organization. This nonprofit helps in a way that traditional therapy cannot. When words are too painful, this heartfelt arena can be just the setting where long lasting healing can begin.
Not only do the participants in the sessions receive healing, but also the volunteers and all who come in contact with the amazing herd report feelings of calm, centered, grounded and a sense of healing.
I have volunteered for 2 years, and I still can't wait to get there for my next visit.
Thank you so much Kerri! Four years going strong. Hay, you even got your own horse! Thank you for giving your heart, energy, expertise and support. Especially to the Teens Committee, we love you and need you. Blessed to have your help.
I have been a volunteer with SROL for almost two years. The work that the horses (and humans!) do is incredible. We usually have an open house in the spring, which gives everybody the chance to see them work, up close and personal! So much hard (behind the scenes) work goes on with SROL. I know how much EVERY donation is greatly appreciated, and 90% of funding goes towards programming costs for trauma survivors. Nothing is wasted, and, luckily, labor is provided by volunteers. I cannot say enough good things about Spring Reins of Life. (as you may have noticed!!) Volunteering for SROL has helped ME in many ways, also.
While apprehensive when I first started volunteering, I quickly came to love this organization. With a leader who sacrifices so much in order to help children in need, its hard not to. Through equine therapy, SRoL has been able to help countless youth cope with the hardships in their lives and has made positive, lasting impacts on everyone involved.
Amazing nonprofit! Helps so many different people from all walks on life. The horses are absolutely brilliant and can leave you speechless.
SROL changes and heals hurting humans. By using on the ground exercises with their equine partners unlocks deep hidden issues. I have been blessed to see lives begin the healing process. To watch the magic unfold will bring tears of joy. Many thanks to Christianna and her equine team.
When I lost my husband and the father of our two girls, then 7 and 9 in June 2013, I was desperately seeking to find a grief therapist for my two girls who were deeply traumatized by the loss. However, when I started looking into children bereavement therapists, that were not traditional "talk" therapists. I found it extremely difficult to locate one. I even inquired through both mine and my late husband's companies Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and neither company could refer any alternative bereavement therapy other than the traditional "talk" counselors. I even went as far as asking a good friend of mine who is a high level HR executive at Pfizer and even he had a difficult time referring anyone to me. I was at a loss and knew I was looking for a needle in a haystack.
One thing I knew was that my children loved animals, so I started googling animal grief therapy methods. That's when I came across Spring Reins of Life. After reading about the co-founder who is a 9/11 widow, I immediately connected with her story and struggle to find a non-traditional approach to bereavement for kids.
When we went to the farm, at first, both girls were hesitant to work with the horses but within minutes, they adjusted to the most striking and gentle horses, Dane and Spring. An experience that made me a believer in this non-traditional approach was with my 7 year old. She was afraid to enter the pen at the first session but with the gentle coaxing and unending patience of CeC and Ro, she found the courage and went in. Once in, she immediately grew more and more confident in guiding the horse on her own. After that session, she started talking to me on the way home about her dad for the first time in months. This type of therapy amazed me as I saw my girls start to deal each week with the emotional loss of their dad, using no words but only expressing their feelings through these gentle creatures. Another experience was with my oldest daughter who was deeply traumatized by the loss and would not speak about it to anyone, not even me. Her only way to cope was by having major emotional outbursts and long crying fits. The week of her session, she had a tumultuous, emotional week with major ups and downs. When she went to equine therapy, she still had a lot of pent up emotions. As she entered the pen to try and lead Dane, the horse immediately ran swiftly around the pen, prancing up and down expressing major spurts of energy, and then when he finally settled down, he went right over to her. My daughter recognized how he felt and CeC talked to her about letting extra energy out and that maybe the horse could show her how to do that. CeC, Ro and I could see a “mirroring of my daughters emotional state”.
Both girls looked forward to going every week and made remarkable progress in being able to comprehend what happened and were able to take steps when ready to "talk" about their experience with me. Having a program like this is so important to families like mine and I am grateful they meet the needs of kids grieving. There are not many programs like this and they do an excellent job in taking the children where they are at in their grief and gently using the horses to help them cope using structured exercises at each session.
Thank you CeC and Ro, and thank you to the horses. We are indebted to you and this program!
Senior Public Policy Advocate
Nestlѐ Nutrition U.S
I am a Mental Health Professional (LCSW) that works with SROL. As an MHP I have seen horses help the at risk youth in so many different ways. The horses have helped these kids increase self confidence, honesty and empathy. In addition, many youth that we have worked with have said that this is one form of therapy they have really enjoyed and wish they could do more of this therapy!
I am a horseperson, and after reading about how horses can help veterans recover from traumas I needed to find out more. I then not-so-coincidentally stumbled upon an organization that does that kind of work practically in my own backyard! The day I met CC and the horses of Spring Reins of Life was electrifying, and I knew this was an organization I needed to be involved in.
The deep and powerful healings experienced by the many veterans, bereaved children, at-risk youth, and other struggling souls whose lives have been touched by the energy and hearts of the Spring Reins of Life horses bring tears to my eyes every time their stories are recalled (and also as I'm typing this). The horses help open up whoever they're near to a new level of awareness, compassion, gentleness, connection and love for themselves and others
As a volunteer, I thought I was trying to help the horses so they could help others, but they (especially Straw) reached deeply into my soul and revealed the love, compassion and healing they give so honestly and freely, and forever changed my life
Please sign up to volunteer, or donate any way you can, to help the Spring Reins of Life horses help those who need it most. Thank you
I was involved with an SROL fundraiser this year and look forward to many more. The talented and highly dedicated staff and well-trained horses provide opportunities for healing to veterans and their families and at-risk youth. It is powerful to witness the positive changes that result from this unique kind of therapy.
As a mental health therapist at Spring Reins of Life, 501c3 who works primarily with the Veteran population, I can attest to the powerful, profound, and humbling experiences that are often shared during therapy sessions. Incorporating horses as part of the treatment team allows for our Veterans to process their stressors (often related to anxiety/ PTSD, depression, and interpersonal relationships) in a non-judgmental, non-threatening manner. For many of the Veterans that we provide services for, they have difficulty in verbalizing their emotions; this setting allows them to work through these stressors in a respectful, empathetic, and supportive manner. When working with horses, they can be verbal or non-verbal- activities that are in alignment with their presenting issues and treatment plan are presented, thus allowing the Veteran to make the activity meaningful for them. As the therapist, we can point out things that occurred in session, and often they tell their story through the interaction of the horse; this can be especially beneficial for Veterans who have reached blocks in or are resistant to talk therapy. Just being the presence of a horse is often powerful for them because they have the ability to connect with a being (horse) eye-to-eye, building self-confidence, self-efficacy, and increasing emotional awareness. They have the power and control to embark on a personal journey of healing on their own terms.
I cannot say enough positive things about how Spring Reins of Life has been able to positively impact many Veterans. Presently we are able to provide free services to a VA Medical Center and Vet Center due to the generous support of local businesses and individuals. We at Spring Reins of Life have the hope, drive, and desire to reach as many Veterans as we can to provide free therapeutic services because we believe in the power of healing that horses can provide. After each session, the incredible stories these Veterans have shared of hope, resilience, and strength bring tears to our eyes.
We hope to be able to reach and support Veterans and their supports for years to come. There is a growing need for this experiential, real-time therapy- the answers may just be found through interactions with a horse!
I went to a demo about 2 1/2 yrs ago, curious about the connection between horses and healing from PTSD. I was immediately impressed by the power of this therapy and the passion of Spring Reins of Life's founder, Christianna Capra. I started volunteering with SROL and have loved every minute of it because we CHANGE LIVES. In fact, I believe wholeheartedly that this therapy SAVES LIVES. Perfect for those who won't or can't talk about their trauma.
Spring Reins of Life is an incredible organization that my daughter and I have been a part of for the last 3 years as both volunteers and as a board member. I never understood the relationship between horses and people until I witnessed first hand the positive impact that these animals have on humans in need of healing. I have seen war veterans smile, be at peace, children laugh and at risk youth feel compassion after these therapy sessions. The bond between horse and human is real. The dedication of both the staff and volunteers shows that the human spirit is till alive !!
I consider it an honor to volunteer with Spring Reins of Life because they have introduced their horses to many who have some kind of emotional instability in their lives and the effect is phenomenal!! Spring Reins of Life provides a way of expressing feelings outside a clinical setting by allowing veterans, at risk youth, and bereaved children to spend time with such gentle creatures. The “herd” exudes such a calm atmosphere in the ring that anyone who has contact with them always walks away with a better sense of well-being than when they first arrived.
"Spring Reins of Life" is absolutely the most amazing organization I have ever witnessed. This organization saves lives and gives hope to military personnel who have experienced massive trauma, SRoL helps children gain confidence in the most beautiful way. Christiana Capra is the most amazing in integrity, giving, caring, hardest working person I know. SRoL is a force for good in a world where allot of things just don’t make sense.
I've recently become involved with SRoL. From the moment I witnessed Equine Assisted Therapy I knew it was something special. I also realized that SRoL was something special as well. I am in awe if the work that SRoL does with both PTSD clients as well as with high risk youth. Working with horses is transformational. I am beginning a relationship with SRoL as a EAGALA certified Education Specialist and Equine Specialist. I'm interested in doing what I can to help SRoL continue its mission.
My daughter and I have been volunteering with SROL for 5 months and are always impressed with the organizers and other volunteers, as well as the horses. SROL is a wonderful organization that really makes a difference to individuals. I feel honored to be able to give a little to horses and an organization that gives so much to veterans with PTSD, children in distress and at risk youth.
My 13yro daughter volunteered several days a week this summer, mucking stalls, sweeping the barn, leading the horses outside...things I would not have thought she would want to do on her summer break. She begged to go! It revealed a side of her that iPads and cell phones couldn't touch. She was in touch with what matters in life, giving to others, the world needs to be compassionate and with SROL leading the charge, my sometimes self absorbed teen felt needed, and that made her shine! As I got to know the folks involved, I too found myself happily holding a broom in touch with the animals and the beautiful farm. It's a magical place doing amazing things for those who so desperately deserve it. By doing for others, we grew ourselves. And let's not forget the horses, or heroes as they are. Majestic and warm, always in awe to be around them and the extraordinary people doing great work at SROL!
I became involved with Spring Reins of Life when a loved one was diagnosed with PTSD. I followed his progress as he was treated by the VA. One day he told me about Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) being used to help his fellow veterans. He had attended a session and witnessed the profound effect it had on the group that he watched. I was fascinated that there was this kind of therapy available and it does not involve medications!!!! The clients will perform designated tasks with the horses - no riding involved. The relationship that is established with the horse is so uplifting for the vets. They come away from each session with new feelings and skills for use in their everyday lives.
Similar programs are available for at-risk youth and children in bereavement. The types of exercises vary for each program and are designed to help specific feelings and behaviors. Like the PTSD program, the children will see some immediate results starting in their very first session.
Since this is a 501(c)3 charity, all funding comes from the generosity of people and organizations like you. I give my time as a volunteer. I can't think of a better use for my time than this charity. Your donations will directly help ordinary people in extraordinary situations.
I have been involved with SROL for a year or more now, on both the military advisory panel and the fund raising committee. Having brought numerous veteran group to Hillsborough for therapy groups I can not express the dramatic effect it has had on everyone of them. They generally agree reluctantly to attend but by the close of a session their anxiety levels drop dramatically while simultaneously their level of trust skyrockets. Every-time I am at the Lakewood Veterans Center (fellow combat veterans) I am asked when can we go back. The program and it's results are indeed amazing as is the staff, I am very proud to be a member of the SROL team.
Spring Reins of Life (Horses, Humans and Healing) 501c3 is an EAGALA Model program in Central New Jersey offering EAP (equine assisted psychotherapy) to at risk / high risk youth, ptsd veterans and their families and bereaved children. Each of these areas are plagued by heavy trauma, and often times those who suffer a trauma experience either do not want to or cannot verbalize or talk about it. Working out these obstacles with the horses provides a safe environment to experience "present moment" and peace from the triggers. Anxiety levels are lowered just being in the same space with the horses and we begin (in the first session) to rebuild TRUST.
Spring Reins of Life is working with several at risk youth (teens) organizations such as Bonnie Brae, MYDC (Misunderstood Youth Development Center), New City Kids, Hunterdon Youth Services and recently just began a pilot program at the NJTS under the NJJJC for incarcerated youth. The beauty of working with horses is that they do not care if you have been in jail, dropped out of school, if you can read or not, if you are rich or poor. The only thing the horses seem to care about is honesty and authenticity, they will react and provide immediate feedback to any situation. Teens learn quickly that it will not work very well to lie, cheat, manipulate or bully a horse - so they must find other ways to accomplish their goals with the horse. It is very empowering and not readily forgettable when this join up occurs, and then there is a foundation to build upon.
With more than 23 suicides per day among veterans, something is needed as an intervention that works! EAP is effective for this population because it is pretty impossible to not become fully present with 1000 pounds coming toward you. There is immediate release of anxiety once a connection is made. In as little as one session (first visit) ptsd clients begin to build a foundation for trust, because a loose horse will require that to interact. Spring Reins of Life is the first (and currently the only) program in New Jersey to earn the "EAGALA Military Services Provider Certificate" (a CEU program qualifying our team approved to work with veterans with PTSD, TBI and MST).
Co-founded by MaryEllen Salamone, who is a 9/11 widow and believed strongly in the power of horses to help young children process grief and emotions that they may not have the vocabulary to express in words. Being with the horses allowed a way to find peace and complete acceptance for whatever you are feeling at the time. The honesty and non judgmental gifts from the horses allow a young child to accept and understand how emotions come on strong and may be confusing but that they will also pass. Grief is a lifelong process, not an event. The horses enable young children to find metaphors and coping skills for their loss.
Spring Reins of Life is run by volunteers, so nearly 90% of our fundraising efforts are appropriated directly to programming and services. There is a growing interest and a huge need for alternative intervention therapy in New Jersey for trauma survivors who do not want to or cannot "talk about it". The effects of severe traumatic experiences may never completely disappear, however the Horses and the EAGALA Model of EAP can provide individual coping skills and a toolbox of armor to identify, understand and handle triggers. Anxiety about frequency of triggers are also reduced. Horses can help to heal trauma to a level of management without medication.
Your tax deductible donation is greatly appreciated. For more information see our website SpringReinsofLife.org. Also see the site for EAGALA International at EAGALA.org (presence in all 50 states and 49 countries). Feel free to contact with any questions or for more information.
The answers to some of life's most complex issues just might come from...A HORSE!
Director of Equine Services
Spring Reins of Life, Inc.