We are Horse Warriors™
Spiritual warriors do no harm, inflict no pain, and cause no suffering. They work to set things right by good example...Warriorship for them in no way entails aggression on others; rather it means having integrity, being brave, and standing forthright but peacefully for all that supports life. Their war is for safety, sanity, and respect."
Stephen McFadden, Ancient Voices, Current Affairs: The Legend of the Rainbow Warriors
Horse Warriors™ is an equine based empowerment program serving people of all ages in a series of empowerment workshops. We are a national professional training center for people working in the field of Equine Facilitated Mental Health and Learning. We also offer a free program for those on the cancer journey, their caregivers, and their families.
Who can participate?
Anyone who needs our services!
What are the different programs?
• Power Ponies™: Parenting Programs provide structured, educational, encouraging equine facilitated empowerment for children ages 6-11. Students learn to teach and model safe, healthy development of personal boundaries, clear communication, creative self-expression, exploration of feelings, and positive interactions between themselves and their parents. Courses are 8 weeks long and meet weekly for 2-hour sessions. Parents attend 4 of the sessions and work with their children and their horses. All family sessions are co-facilitated by licensed counselors, and equine sessions are taught by certified equine professionals.
• Mighty Mustangs™: Open to families with children ages 7-11 who have participated in a full season of Power Ponies™. Classes run for 8 weeks in the summer and meet once a week for 2 hours a day. Parents accompany their children 4 of the 8 weeks. Parent sessions are co-facilitated by a licensed therapist.
• Horse Warriors™: Open to youth ages 12-18. Students apply and are recommended to the program by a teacher, therapist, counselor, etc., who knows the student well. Programs run year round; students meet once a week all summer from 9am-4pm, and for monthly discussion/art groups during the academic year. All students do 30 hours of community service per year. Upper level students become mentors for the Power Ponies™ and Mighty Mustangs™ programs. Course includes relationship building, horsemanship, social skill development, art, creative writing, public speaking, and academic assistance. Parent involvement in programs is required, and parent/child activities are co-facilitated by a licensed family therapist.
• Women & Horses™: Open to women with an interest in horses. Course is 3 days long and meets from 9am - 5pm each day. Content includes relationship building, horsemanship, creative self-expression, riding, obstacle training, and trail riding. Suitable for riders of all levels - beginner to advanced.
• Horses of the Goddess™: Six-day (intensive) professional training for instructors and therapists. Content includes relationship building, curriculum development, integration of equine and mental health professionals in therapeutic programs, creativity projects for equine programs, mental health theory and practice, somatic experiencing, horsemanship, riding, and discussion.
• Cancer Kickers™: FREE programs for those on the cancer journey. The program contains elements of skill development, artistic sharing, camaraderie and positive, forward movement into beliefs and practices of seeing oneself as healed. Participants move towards a place of joy and discovery where they can be challenged by new experiences and succeed.
How does it happen?
Each student gets a horse during the summer months of the program. Groups are small and intimate, with personal and emotional safety maintained at all times. HW students meet one full day a week throughout the summer. Riding and horsemanship skills are taught progressively in an arena, and when students are safe and comfortable with their horses, we ride out on the trail. Days are spent (rain or shine) out in the backcountry.
Journaling is a key component of the program. All students receive instruction in art and creative writing; everyone has solo time during the lunch break for working in their journals and reflecting. After journaling, we have time for optional sharing of our work and observations with the group. Then we continue with our riding throughout the afternoon.
In the non-riding months of the year, participants meet monthly for day long retreats/discussion groups. Discussions are adult supervised but student driven. This gives students a forum for exploring ideas, problem solving and sharing experiences. Students who need academic help are given free tutoring from our broad base of volunteers. We use the model of "The Four Agreements" by Don Miguel Ruiz as a framework for coping with peer pressure, maintaining confidentiality and removing emotional charge from much of what is perceived through adolescent filters:
Be impeccable with your word
Don't take anything personally
Don't make assumptions
Always do your best
We teach young people skills that enable them to have a solid, appreciated, and recognized voice in the world by cultivating healthy and creative self-expression. We teach, model, and encourage the values of compassion, kindness, personal responsibility and accountability, volunteer involvement with community, and respect for the well-being of ourselves, our horses, and our environment.
Diamondfly Ranch is the home of the Horse Warriors™ residential retreats and equine professionals' training programs. With a bunkhouse, guest rooms in the main house, a 100' x 200' outdoor area, barn, tack room, and easy access to trails, it is a perfect place to relax and bask in the company of wonderful horses and like-minded horse enthusiasts.
Priscilla Marden, CEIP-ED
PATH, Int'l. Certified Instructor; ESMHL
Priscilla is the co-founder of Horse Warriors™ and co-owner of Diamondfly Ranch. She teaches all phases of the programs. Priscilla is the former Co-Chair of the Certification Board for Equine Interaction Professionals, a former board member of the Equine Facilitated Mental Health Association, and is a current member of PATH, Int'l. She volunteers with the Jackson Hole Citizen's Mounted Unit and is a professional illustrator and designer, spearheading our year-round arts program and HW curriculum. She has been trained by horses since the age of 8 and is wildly partial to Mustangs and Corgis.
Nancy Waite-O'Brien, CEIP-MH
PhD; SEP; Licensed Psychologist; Visiting Instructor
Dr. Nancy Waite-O'Brien is a psychologist, educator, and author with over 30 years of experience in addiction treatment both in the U.S. and in the Caribbean. In 2004, she was named one of sixty most influential women in the field of addiction treatment by Counselor Magazine. She is a frequent lecturer on issues related to women's treatment, taught at Chapman University in Palm Desert, Ca. and published research on shame and depression in early recovery. Dr. Waite-O'Brien was associated with the Betty Ford Center for 18 years and in that capacity oversaw all clinical services and training. She is a former board and current advisory board member of the Certification Board for Equine Interaction Professionals, as well as a certified Somatic Experiencing Practitioner.
Cheryl Renzulli-Lagerveld, MA; LAT
Cheryl has been a part of the Horse Warriors™ organization since 2002, when she and her son participated in Power Ponies™. Since then, she has pursued her passion for horses and developed her equine facilitated interaction skills through our Professionals' Training and Women & Horses workshops, and through volunteering with our parenting classes. Since 2016, she has helped facilitate our family programs and is indispensable to our communication skills development! She has her own counseling business, Grand Teton Counseling, and she lives in Jackson with her husband and collection of cats.
RyLyn began participating in Horse Warriors™ when she was in middle school and has become an excellent instructor for the younger students in the program. She loves horses and is an accomplished horsewoman. She has been a member of the Horse Warriors™ Demo Team, and has long been a mentor for the Power Ponies™ and Mighty Mustangs™ programs. This is RyLyn's 18th year of being involved with the Horse Warriors™ programs!
Ami grew up in Tucson, Arizona where she began loving and riding horses at the age of 7. She has successfully trained and competed in hunter/jumpers as well as hunt seat equitation growing up. After moving to Jackson, Wyoming to work on a dude ranch, Ami learned how to start young horses, barrel race, and team rope. She later moved to Star Valley where she enjoyed teaching as a horse 4-H leader. Ami currently resides in Etna, Wyoming with her husband and two boys. After a short hiatus from the horse world, she is excited to share her love and experience being a part of the Horse Warriors™ program!
Crystal returns this year as an instructor/intern. We're glad she's back and nearly finished with her Agricultural Marketing and Media degree. In addition to working with kids and horses, she also documents our program with photos and videos, helping us with our own marketing! Crystal has also been one of our visiting staff for our Professionals' Training courses. Crystal lives with her Labrador Retriever, Fern, and her amazing hiking and adventure partner, Sage, the Cat.