Equine Assisted Therapy at NJ Farm Helping Recovering Addicts

By Nora Muchanic
Wednesday, July 12, 2017 06:35PM

At Harmony Hollow Run Farm in West Amwell, recovering addict Kristy Naughton is an assistant trainer with the equine assisted therapy program, the same program she went through herself.

“The horse doesn’t know where I came from. He doesn’t know what I’ve done. He doesn’t know where I’m trying to get to and he doesn’t judge me,” Naughton said.

The equine therapy program is a partnership between the Bensalem-based Livengrin Foundation, an addiction treatment center, and another non-profit called FARM, short for Facilitating Active Recovery Mission.

Under the guidance of specialized therapists, the program has patients work with horses. In doing so, they deal with some of the challenges they face in recovery.

“I’m working through fear. A lot of fear of trying something new. Patience. You have to be patient with them. Compassion. I wasn’t a very compassionate person for a very long time,” Naughton said.

The clients work with facilitator Brad Langenberg, a Nebraska-born former addict who says being out in the country helps relax people and gets them talking.

“The edge comes off. There is something about being around that horse and being out here in nature that just, it makes it so much easier,” Langenberg said.

It may seem on usual that working on a farm with horses could help addicts on the road to recovery. But it’s another tool that helps some regain control of their lives.

“When the patients go back to Livengrin for their psychotherapy, it’s changing the way they’re communicating. It gives them confidence and it’s a confidence they’re going to need when they go back to their lives and their jobs and families,” Scott Blacker of the Livengrin Foundation said.

Equine therapy seems to be making a difference, just ask Kristy Naughton.

“If it doesn’t do one thing therapeutically, it definitely will do something else, as in serenity,” Naughton said.

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