Celebrating 10 Years of The Mane Intent

2024 represents the 10th year of operations for The Mane Intent. While the actual anniversary is not until the Fall, I have recently had an opportunity to reflect on some of the highlights of our journey.

 In 2011, at the tender age of 48, a horse named Sunny walked into my life and changed it forever. I had little prior horse experience and did not grow up with horses. I was a city girl and a married mother of two daughters with 25 years of corporate experience in communications, community investment and change management.

In 2014, I left a 14 year contract and my comfortable life to launch The Mane Intent, an equine-assisted learning business with the intent of offering leadership development and teambuilding. What came to me instead was individuals seeking support for trauma. That year, I used some inheritance money to build an arena on our farm and hosted a ‘grand opening’ in November, 2014. For six months thereafter, nothing happened.

2024 represents the 10th year of The Mane Intent. I am now a Registered Psychotherapist in my 60th year. At The Mane Intent, we offer individual virtual and in-person psychotherapy and equine-assisted psychotherapy. We also offer community-based and trauma-informed equine-assisted learning and equine-assisted therapy for groups. In the presence of our horses, supported by our clinical team, clients find a safe and welcoming place to explore the varying dimensions of their personal healing journey. Our herd today includes 9 full-sized horses, four mini-horses and two donkeys (and goats, rabbits, cats, chickens and dogs).

Here are some highlights from the past 10 years:

In 2015, I began to support clients of an addiction/PTSD treatment program offered by Bellwood Health Services in Toronto. Over a three year period, I supported close to 300 veterans and first responders (mostly men) who were clients as part of this program.

The Mane Intent developed and delivered Building Internal Resilience Through Horses, a multi-sector community-based collaboration between Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre (KSAC), The Mane Intent, and Trent University. All collaborating partners provided in-kind contributions that supported project activities. The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) provided $622,983 from October, 2016 to March, 2021 through the Supporting the Health of Survivors of Family Violence investment.

For a five year period beginning in 2017, this innovative trauma- and violence-informed resilience program was offered to young women (aged 13 – 18 years) from Peterborough and surrounding areas, who had experienced or witnessed violence in their home, or experienced intimate partner violence in dating relationships. The program is designed to build three fundamental pillars of personal resilience: a sense of mastery, emotion regulation, and a sense of relatedness. Starting in Spring 2017, the program was delivered to 12 groups of 83 young women over a 5 year period and this research initiative concluded in March, 2021.

Outcome measures showed significant improvements in participants’ resiliency indicators, including increased emotional awareness and adaptability, stronger sense of personal mastery, and improved interpersonal and relational skills. Many of these improvements were sustained over the long term at 1-month, 6-month, and for some core competencies even at 12-month follow-up, suggesting that the skills taught in the program are lasting and transferable. All programming offered by The Mane Intent is informed by Building Internal Resilience through Horses. A copy of the final research report is attached and there is a program manual that is available free for download on my web site themaneintent.ca

Two years ago, I developed and now deliver Equine-Assisted Learning Facilitator Training in Building Internal Resilience Through Horses. I have been invited to Halifax Lancers on two occasions to train facilitators to support the development of their own community-based EAL program. Since 1936, Lancers has made horses and riding accessible to children in Halifax. As Canada’s only urban non-profit riding school and equine therapy centre, its mission is to build better lives through horses.

In 2017, The Mane Intent received a Business Excellence Award in the Health and Wellness Category; and in 2022, The Mane Intent received Business Excellence Awards in Health and Wellness Category and Micro Business Category from the Chamber of Commerce of Peterborough and Kawarthas.

In 2018, I returned to school after 40 years to earn a Masters of Arts in Counselling Psychology, completing the program in September, 2021. I became a registered psychotherapist in 2021. To complement that learning, in the past 10 years I have also received:

  • A Certificate in Facilitated Equine Experiential Learning (FEEL)
  • A Certificate in Trauma Counselling from the University of Toronto
  • A Certificate in Connection-Focused Therapy® (Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy developed by Dr. Rebecca Bailey and Eponaquest founder Linda Kohanov)
  • Fundamentals of Natural Lifemanship training in Trauma-focused Equine -Assisted Psychotherapy
  • Somatic Experiencing® Professional Training in Beginning 1, 2 & 3 Modules
  • EQUSOMA™ – Introduction to Somatic Experiencing® Skills for Equine-Facilitated Practitioners
  • First Degree of the Usui System of Reiki Healing

Since its inception in 2014, The Mane Intent has designed and delivered one-day as well as five- and six-week customized equine-supported wellness programming for a variety of social service agencies and organizations, including:

  • Bellwood Health Services PTSD/Addiction Treatment Programming
  • Canadian Mental Health Association Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge – Justice Clients
  • Canadian Mental Health Association Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge – Dual Diagnosis Clients
  • Durham Rape Crisis Centre
  • Elizabeth Fry Society
  • First Peoples House of Learning at Trent University
  • Halifax Lancers
  • Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre
  • New Canadians Centre Peterborough and Cobourg
  • Niijkwendidaa Anishnaabekewegwag Service Circle
  • Nogojiwanong Friendship Centre – Indigenous Peoples Court, Two-Spirit Youth, Women’s Groups, Youth Group
  • PARN Rainbow Youth
  • Peterborough Regional Health Centre Personal Health Improvement
  • The Gateway Recovery Centre (PTSD/Addiction Treatment for First Responders/Veterans and Active Service Personnel)

We said goodbye to Sunny on December 17, 2023 after he tragically broke his front leg. There was no recovering from his injury and the only option was to release him from his suffering. I lost a piece of my heart that morning. Sunny was the beginning of The Mane Intent. He was the impetus for it all. Much has happened since our first meeting in a muddy field full of manure. Sunny touched countless lives over the past 10 years. He has served as a herd leader. He has been a teacher of boundaries, overcoming fear and stepping into leadership. Sunny was one of my best equine therapy horses. 


The Mane Intent

February 29, 2024

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