Healing and Horses at Stable Living

Stable Living helps adults and children find health and happiness through connection to horses.

When the going gets tough, therapy might well be the answer. Although the word might conjure images of sitting on a couch across from a therapist with a clipboard, that’s far from the only form this practice can take. In equine-assisted therapy, the session might be in a stable or pasture. At Minnetrista's Stable Living, the possibilities are endless. Through its therapists’ creative approaches, Stable Living helps clients live joyful, meaningful lives.

Stable Living opened last spring. The previous winter, therapist and owner Kippie Palesch closed on the property, which was previously a horse boarding facility. A longtime horse lover herself, Palesch opened Stable Living as a means of integrating her two biggest passions. “I was trying to create this vision of combining therapy with our horses, bringing in other awesome therapists and having this be a place of healing,” she says.

In February 2017, Palesch got to work renovating it to turn the front half of the eight-stall barn into office space. Stable Living was open and ready for business by May of that year.

Like many counseling centers, Stable Living provides a safe environment to cope with the challenges life brings—especially anxiety, depression, relationship issues and addiction—but what sets it apart is its focus on developmental trauma and how it uses horses in the healing process. “When our wants and needs weren’t met as little kids, it creates problems in our adult lives, especially in relationships,” says Palesch.

Therapist Patti Brown jokes that Stable Living has both two-legged and four-legged staff members. “We have a really big menagerie—we have nine different creatures,” she says. “They each have very unique personalities and each brings something different to our work.”

Humans have long found healing through connecting with animals, but there’s much to suggest that horses are something special. “The type of therapy that we do is neuro-biologically based. There’s a reason why we choose horses—it’s not just because they’re cool,” Palesch says. “Their energy field is quite relaxed, which we’re really attuned to. We feel better when we’re around horses, because they’re so regulated,” she explains.

Stable Living offers traditional in-office sessions, but if a client opts for equine-assisted therapy, they’ll meet all nine horses and choose one to work with. Guided by their therapist, clients interact with the same horse each session in order to deepen their connection to the animal. That proves to be a good model for how to form healthy relationships with other people, as well.
“Learning how to connect with a horse is very similar to connecting with people, because we have to bring our best self to that situation,” says Brown. “We have to have clear communication. We have to have confidence. We have to be very regulated.”

Palesch and Brown both say they love their work. “I think why we have such a heart for this is that’s what helped us get through childhood, and it was kind of our safe space,” Palesch says. “Our therapy as children was to be with our horses.”