Horses are Patient Therapists at Harmony Farms Rice Lake


A family participates in a Family Herd Workshop where the therapeutic impact of interaction with horses helps solidify family bonds.

During her work as a Personal Service Worker, Krystyna Nelson has seen firsthand the physical and mental debilitation that chronic ailments have on daily life.    During time spent with her clients, she saw them feel supported, even finding ways to laugh.  When her scheduled time was up, she often felt the relief she provided was too temporary and inadequate, leaving her clients trapped in a world of pain and limitations, just pushing through the days disheartened. Her empathy is reinforced by her own experience with chronic pain.  She was looking for new tools to give them a more lasting relief, hope and even some joy, despite their circumstances.  She felt she could help her clients at a much deeper level.

At home, she had horses that gave her joy.  They were just passing time on their own while she was out working.  She thought some of her clients might find the same joy interacting with her horses that she did, so she signed up for certification as an Equine Assisted Learning Facilitator through Equine Connection – The Academy of Equine Assisted Learning based in Alberta.  After completing her program, she found new energy.  She was ready to connect clients with their new “therapists”.

She launched her new equine therapy business at her home on the south shore of Rice Lake.  Harmony Farms follows a holistic philosophy in a serene environment, offering a variety of programs targeting different clients.  The programs she offers are created to stimulate brain function and help clients deal with turmoil, frustration and anxiety in their lives.

The Weekly Life Skills programs are designed for people suffering from chronic or neurological ailments including Parkinson’s and Multiple Sclerosis. With no prospect of significant improvement in their situations, these patients often become frustrated and depressed. The mission in this series is to help sufferers find a better quality of life by allowing them to have fun and learn how to make the best of their situations, letting go of what cannot be changed.  In these programs, clients participate in activities involving horses and ponies designed to energize and invigorate them through the development of life skills to live a better life, despite their circumstances.  A free pilot program is offered, along with eight and twelve week options.

The Family Herd Series offers weekend or five week options, providing opportunities to build independence, confidence and stronger family bonds in a safe, non-judgemental environment.

Krystnya wants to help families connect in a tangible way, not a virtual one.  Her programs are designed to bring together through in-person sessions with her small herd of horses.

Other workshops are created for women that include activities with horses, yoga and other activities designed to reduce anxiety, find balance and have some fun.

All programs involve activities with horses and ponies but do not require horse experience as no riding is involved.

Equine therapy has a long history, but its popularity is growing.  Therapists realize that animals can provide an extraordinary amount of emotional support.  Horses have unique traits that make them ideal in building therapeutic trust.  They are keen observers and sensitive to movement and emotion, and are often said to mirror their handlers’ emotions.  This communicates an understanding, helping clients feel safe.  Activities include grooming, feeding and leading a horse under the supervision of a trained professional.  The goal of this type of therapy is to develop emotional regulation, confidence, emotional awareness, empathy, and trust- in self and others.

For Krystyna, the best news in her new venture is that she gets to enjoy the programs over and over again.  Seeing other people manage their pain and their lives helps her manage her own pain, making her feel stronger, more productive and happier.  Sounds like everyone wins at Harmony Farms.  KG

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