Harnessing H.O.P.E. Written by By MARY ANN WASSERMAN Sentinel Staff Writer Monday, 07 July 2008
Horses teamed with children, as well as the youngsters’ parents, in a communication exercise at the Bowling GreenProject H.O.P.E. Spring Fun Show recently at Sandra Tebbe’s horse farm at 16195 W. Poe Road. “It is really fun riding because once I kind of talked to them (horses) and they listen to me,” Nicole Kirkpatrick,Perrysburg, one of the show participants, said. “I am more loving and caring. I used to be really rough.” She has been in the therapeutic program for nine months at Project Horses Opening People’s Eyes (H.O.P.E). Inaddition to being more loving, by her own admission, the youngster also made friends in the program. She and others are part of a client base of Sandra Tebbe, licensed professional clinical counselor. The BowlingGreen professional founded the organization after noticing that several children she was working with would talkopenly about their problems to Tebbe’s horses. There are different phases of the program. There is the dismounted activity where children literally build obstaclesrepresenting the different problems they have in their lives. Once the physical obstacle is built, they talk about problemsolving and how to get through their issues. A second phase of the plan is a non-riding component: A child will ask todo things they do not know how to do without having to be pressured from the community. “The program started four years ago, and has children who have different emotional issues including depression,anxiety, ADHD, and behavioral problems where their sitting in a traditional office setting does not necessarily work forthem,” Tebbe said. In addition to competition-sanctioned classes, Tebbe adds a Parent-Child Obstacle Course to her roster of events. Asa final class of the afternoon, the parent is blindfolded and leads a horse within an enclosed arena. The child, who isnot blindfolded, is on the horse and offers the parent suggestions as to which direction to proceed. The person givingdirections can only say “right” or “left” or “little step” or “big step.” The parent and child are allowed to switch positionsas a means of wrapping up communication. Shelby Mullens, Oregon, is another participant in the H.O.P.E. program. “It (program) helps me a lot in my anger issues and stuff,” Mullens said. “I can help the horse and they can help me.” Mothers Jamie Kirkpatrick, Perrysburg, and Karin Goldsmith, Oregon, agree with their children. “It is an excellent program,” Kirkpatrick said. “I can pretty much schedule visits anytime.” Goldsmith focused on the improved communication aspects. “We learned a lot with communication with the horses and it helps with communication at home as well,” she said. Allen Tebbe is the horse handler while his wife counsels. He observed that the children have learned more about thebehavior of horses and in a sense can apply that knowledge to their situation. “Because every horse is unique and these horses are therapy to the individuals,” he said. Throughout Saturday’s show, judge Char Lusk of Memory Lane Farm consulted with riders as to their skills andguided them with positive directions. There were no placings as first, second, third, fourth, reserve champion, or bestof show. “The ribbons read, ‘With God everyone is a winner,’” Sandra Tebbe said. “I wanted to have the show because thechildren have worked hard all year, and I wanted them to be able to hear what great kids they are and how muchprogress they have made.” About 65 relatives of youngsters attended the event. Tebbe works for two private practices: Key Life Directions, Rossford, and Pathways Christian Counseling, Findlay. Sandra Tebbe can be contacted (419) 469-0415.
Nicole Kirkpatrick, 11, of Perrysburg rides a horse at the farm of Sandra Tebbe on West Poe Road just outside of Bowling Green (Photos: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)