On a recent trip to Pittstown, NJ, to meet Christianna Capra, it is easy to see that she is taking the reins to pursue her lifelong passion. CC, as she is nicknamed, seems happiest when she is alongside her horses and the people who have come to work with them.
For CC, the stables have become her second home since 2009. That’s when she founded Spring Reins of Hope (Getting to the Horse of the Matter) to offer equine-facilitated services where participants don’t ride or mount the horses at all. Instead they work with them in the arena to help overcome emotional and behavioral issues, as well as benefit from professional growth during life-skills training programs.
According to CC, using horses provides an intense “short-cut” to revealing core issues. Through non-verbal awareness, participants can recognize and resolve emotional/behavioral patterns. “Animals can break down the barriers that form trust issues that complicate human relationships. Horses offer a non-judgmental view into our self-inflicted limiting beliefs and offer a new perspective on how to overcome them.”
For as long as she can remember, CC has been “horse crazed.” Growing up, some of her earliest — and fondest – memories were of her walking on all fours, using her mom’s hair piece for a tail, and getting “hand fed” by loving family members.
That early love for horses continued to grow for CC through her early childhood years living in Boulder, Colorado, then in Seattle, and finally clear across the country in New York. After graduating from college, CC pursued acting while waiting on tables, then established careers in sales, marketing and public relations. “But, without horses in my life, there was always an emptiness, “ she remembers.
Just to be close to her four legged friends, CC took a part time job grooming horses at a Central Park riding stable. It was there she met a horse named Spring Thaw she eventually got to own.
Together, as best friends and companions, they began a new journey that ultimately has allowed CC to take the reins to follow what has become her lifelong passion and calling. “I always wanted to have a career with horses, but being a trainer, professional rider, or veterinarian just didn’t appeal to me,” she explains.
Then CC learned about the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA), which offers programs in all 50 states and 40 countries across the globe. Through a series of life changing events, CC ultimately got certified by EAGALA in equine-assisted psychotherapy and learning. “I discovered that riding is just one facet of interaction with horses – they can guide, heal and touch our life and soul in profound ways,” she remembers.
As she learned more about EAP (Equine Assisted Psychotherapy) and EAL (Equine Assisted Learning), CC knew she had to do more. That’s when she founded her own program.
Spring Reins of Hope facilitates programs for individuals, couples, families and groups for therapeutic purposes focusing on emotional and behavioral issues, as well as experiential learning for corporations, organizations and medical professionals. In 2011, after her efforts failed to provide funding for certain populations, CC co-founded a public charity called Spring Reins of Life (Horses, Humans & Healing) to offer EAP and EAL for “at risk” youths, returning war veterans, and bereaved children.
Both Spring Reins of Hope and Spring Reins of Life are EAGALA model programs. As such, the EAP and EAL programs offered by both are a collaborative effort between a licensed mental health professional, an equine specialist like herself, and a horse(s). Each are considered an equal member of the treatment team.
At Spring Reins of Hope, EAL is targeted towards personal and professional growth and expansion. Here, horses are used for corporate training and development that include team building and leadership programs, among other things. A recent workshop, for example, helped teach medical students from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) how to improve patient communications and relationships in just a few short hours with the horses.
On Saturday, August 18 at 1 p.m., you can join CC, the horses and others at Spring Rein of Hope’s/Spring Reins of Life's open house and demo, which is free to the public. To learn more about the program, go to www.springreinsofhope.com To sign up for demo day, go to http://www.springreinsoflife.org
CC invites you to come on out for the afternoon. You may even get to meet Spring Thaw, because after all these years, Spring Thaw is still by CC’s side. “On this journey, I have found my spirit guide in Spring Thaw. Through him I have discovered my life’s work, my passionate purpose,” says CC.
To read more stories about women who are reinventing themselves to follow their passions, go to www.amorejourney.com/blog.