A Framework for Staying Sane in a Year of Uncertainty

Thoughts on staying sane during Covid-19

In this uncertain time of Coronavirus, where most of us are either huddling up to our smart-phones for contact or forced to head out into the hazardous unknown for work, there’s a lot of talk about health. Like that of the guy who touched the can of tuna fish just before you did (did I just hear him cough?!). But what isn’t being talked about as much is our mental health. I’m Sarah, one of the team members at Berkshire HorseWorks, and I wanted to share with what’s been helping me during this disruptive time.

There’s a great article called, “A Framework for Staying Sane in a Year of Uncertainty” (Here) that’s provided a lot of encouragement for me as a nearly 30-year-old stuck inside with no dog (dangit). In it, Dr. Gil Noam talks about the Clover Model, created by Harvard doctors to describe human development. These are the areas, which, if addressed effectively every day, can help us “stay sane” and keep us moving and grooving even when we’re isolated and in our apartments. Here’s are my ideas for practicing the 4 principles every day:

  1. Active Engagement: Find something to do that gets your brain moving. A crossword puzzle, an art project, going to work – get involved in something that stimulates you.
  2. Assertiveness/voice: Write in your journal, blog or talk to others about how you’re feeling. If you have opinions about how things are going in any area of your life, find ways to speak up about them.
  3. Belonging: Call your Nana, your best friend, your best friend’s Nana or someone in your life that loves you. Find ways to stay connected; it’s the best way to counteract the social isolation of socially isolating.
  4. Reflection: Being stuck at home is the perfect time to draw inwards and ask yourself the hard questions like “Where does a rainbow start?” and “How many licks does it take to get to the center of a tootsie pop?”. Take advantage of the downtime to get to know You better.

Like many, I’m not impervious to the stress of the virus, but when I tackle each of these 4 tenats every day I feel happier. It IS possible to stay sane in this unprecedented and frightening time – and I think we can do it together. Though I also think it’s generally much better when there’s a Donkey involved.

Thanks for reading!

It takes a community to stop bullying

It takes a community to stop bullying

Bullying; “unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance (@stopbullying.gov.)” Hi, i’m Nya an intern at Berkshire HorseWorks through Miss Hall’s Horizons program and I will be blogging about relevant topics over the next few months. It takes an active community to stop bullying. When I was younger, my best friend was bullied, I tried so hard to help her. However, I found it hard to stand up to them by myself and ended up getting bullied too. We were all alone. The schools tried to address it through programming and discussions which did help us feel at least they were aware. But it wasn’t resonating with enough people and the call to action faded. It’s one thing to have anti-bullying prevention programs in schools, which is known to decrease bullying by 25% (National Bullying Prevention Center) @pacer.org. But it is another thing to maximize those learnings so that all can feel the impact. Not all kids or parents are visual learners so they don’t fully grasp the magnitude of the situation. Imagine how effective it would be to partner school initiatives with a program which can reinforce the learnings of the curriculum with experiential, real time interactions. At BHW, we have found the Equine Assisted bully prevention pilot programs to be highly effective, so we will now expand them into all the schools in our district. We may call on you to help us get this going as we all know it takes a whole community that cares to do this right. @berkshirehorseworks.com. Keep you posted! #strong community #horses stop bullying #show you care #mental health #students

Veterans Administration provides $637,700 for Equine-Assisted Mental Health Services

Veterans Administration provides $637,700 for Equine-Assisted Mental Health Services

Great news announced November 5, 2019. Eagala will receive $637,700 to fund services shown to improve mental and emotional health of veterans and servicemembers across the United States!

Check out this full article here.


Aisha O’Boyle on Anxiety and the effect

Hello! I’m Aisha O’Boyle, a new volunteer at Berkshire HorseWorks. Over the summer, I plan on writing blogs concerning the positive impacts horses can have on people…such as healing from mental health or behavioral disabilities and/or developing a better connection with those around you. I would like to become a resource to others, helping with their personal challenges similar to the ones with which I have dealt.

Anxiety has become an epidemic in students. A recent article published by Psychology Today states “Anxiety disorders affect 25% of teenagers, a percentage that has steadily risen over the past 30 years and is showing no sign of slowing down”(2). I have personally struggled with anxiety for the past couple of years, however, recently it has improved. I have also observed my peers dealing with similar issues. Growing up in the digital age, I understand the pressure of keeping up a positive image of yourself on social media. According to the same article mentioned above(Psychology Today), millennials on average spend “four hours a day on social media…subconsciously comparing themselves to the people they follow”(3). This large amount of time spent comparing ourselves to others then negatively impacts our self-esteem. Social media can surely have a negative impact on your life if used too often. Reducing the time you spend on social media, has not only been proven to better your mental health but also allows more free time to reconnect with your friends and family in real life.

How can horses help this anxiety epidemic? EAGALA, a program offered at Berkshire HorseWorks including both EAP(Equine Assisted Psychotherapy) and EAL(Equine Assisted Learning) is a type of therapy used as a treatment for several mental health and behavioral challenges such as autism, PTSD, addiction, ADHD, depression, anger management, and anxiety. Horse therapy, according to a growing number of mental health professionals, can be significantly more productive than talk therapy. An article published by U.S News includes statements from Leslie Roberts, a licensed professional counselor who has worked at Project Horse for almost a decade states “There are so many similarities between horses and people…horses help people identify what they’re feeling”(11). Horses can sense danger and respond with a heightened awareness of their surroundings. Therefore those suffering from an anxiety disorder may be able to feel these changes and better communicate their feelings. A similar article published by Everyday Health states “horses are more highly attuned to environmental activity and sensitive to people’s emotional states than…other animals used in assisted therapies”(5). Since humans can create such a strong bond with horses, Equine Assisted Psychotherapy is a very effective way of allowing people to heal from mental disorders such as anxiety in a safe and welcoming environment.




Thanks to our local community sponsors, children of all ages will now be able to participate for FREE in Berkshire HorseWorks’ 2nd Annual Scavenger Hunt: “Horses and Hikers for Healing” Saturday, June 22nd at 101 Patton Rd, Richmond MA. In order to receive a scholarship for the event one must register https://tinyurl.com/y67loxbc by 5:00PM on Monday, June 17th. All who pre-register will receive a special clue to be eligible to win $100 hidden on the trail. See below for a list of sponsors who have made these scholarships possible:

Sponsors: Greylock Federal Credit Union, Lee Bank, Flo’s Diner, Clifford Oil Company, Ogden Gigli Photography, Newaves Unisex Hair Salon, Dominic Sinopoli Insurance Agency: American National, The Triplex Cinema, Berkshire Property Agents. In-kind Services: Hotshot Hillbillies, Smokey Sweet BBQ, SoCo Creamery, Studley Press, Berkshire Print Shop, Staples, Red Lion Inn, Guido’s Fresh Marketplace, Wupe FM, WBRK, WSBS

General registration will be open until the day of event, June 22nd. The registration fee covers the Scavenger Hunt and Hoedown/BBQ. Pricing is as follows: $35 for individuals, $55 for families (up to 5 people). The Scavenger Hunt will kick off at 10:00am. The Hoedown will begin at 12:00 PM. Tickets are also available for Hoedown only and can be purchased at the Hoedown. Hoedown only tickets are $10 for children, $20 for seniors (60+) and veterans, $25 for adults, and $50 for families (up to 5 people).

In our Scavenger Hunt, find your way through our 7- acre property as you test your Berkshire and Horse trivia skills. Use your ingenuity to discover and solve clues which may be just about anywhere! This event is family friendly and for all ages and abilities. Our horses and donkeys will be there as close you like and no closer, just let us know your comfort level. Weave through the carved trails and around the paddocks. Keep your senses awake and alert. Most importantly, have fun

At our Hoedown, indulge in a festive afternoon of live music by the Hotshot Hillbillies over a savory lunch courtesy of Smokey’s Sweet BBQ in Canaan NY with ice cream from SoCo Creamery. We’ll have a number of activities to make it a fun day. Face-painting, we’ve got it

REGISTER HERE https://tinyurl.com/y67loxbc TODAY. For more information on how to register call us at (413) 698-3700 or email us at info@berkshirehorseworks.com


FROM: Berkshire HorseWorks Inc, EAGALA Certified Program

CONTACT: Hayley Sumner, Hayley@berkshirehorseworks.com,

(310) 488-9777

For Immediate Release



Barbecue Hoedown to Follow/ $100 hidden on trail

Register: https://tinyurl.com/y67loxbc early to secure your scholarship and a chance to win $100. Generous sponsors awaiting teams.

Richmond, MA June 1st, 2019 Calling all families, hikers, and outdoor enthusiasts to register for the 2nd annual Scavenger Hunt: “Horses and Hikers for Healing” hosted by Berkshire HorseWorks, Saturday, June 22, All proceeds will go towards funding EAGALA Model Equine Assisted Psychotherapy, life skill development, and team building programs for children, families, and veterans with mental health and behavioral challenges. Our horses (and donkeys) involved in this programming, will be there to inspire you as you solve clues along the way. They’ll only be as close as you like; just tell us your comfort level

The Scavenger Hunt will be held at Berkshire HorseWorks ranch (101 Patton Road, Richmond, MA) and will kick off at 10:00 am. Clues will be hidden throughout the 7 acres of nature trails, paddocks, natural pond, and gardens. The walk is gentle and easily navigated by all generations! The 10 clues will be a combination of Berkshire fun facts and horse trivia. Special awards will be given to the first three teams who solve all clues in the fastest time. There will be a bonus clue for those who register

before Friday, June 14th which will lead to $100 hidden on the trail. The team that finds it first takes it home!!! A BBQ/ HOEDOWN will immediately follow.

The Hoedown will include live music by the Hotshot Hillbillies, a BBQ lunch catered by Smokey Sweet BBQ, ice cream from SoCo Creamery, and a variety of activities for kids including face-painting.

“This event is an opportunity to invite our neighbors, other Berkshire residents and those visiting for the weekend to enjoy the outdoors and become part of our 5th Anniversary celebration. We have served over 750 residents since opening our doors and we truly love the work we do. We are grateful to our neighbors who have supported us all these years and invite anyone who is interested to learn more and become engaged in the mission,” shared Hayley Sumner, Founder and Executive Director of the nonprofit.

REGISTER Here https://tinyurl.com/y67loxbc today or by emailing info@berkshirehorseworks.com. Registration is $35 for individuals, $55 for families of five, and includes the scavenger hunt and BBQ/ Hoedown. The Hoedown will begin at 12:00 PM. Tickets are also available for hoedown only and can be purchased the day of the event: children (12 and under) $10, adults $25, and families of five $50. Everyone can look forward to a fun day outdoors!

For further questions or information on how to register or become a sponsor email info@berkshirehorseworks.com or call (413) 698-3700.

To download a pdf version of this press release, click here

Riagain’s Thoughts on ADHD

Riagain’s Thoughts on ADHD

Hi, it’s Riagain from Berkshire HorseWorks with one final blog! Ever since I was a child, I have struggled and battled with my ADHD. ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, a condition with symptoms including inattentiveness, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. There are arguments on both sides regarding the use of medication to mitigate the effects of ADHD. I personally do not use medication. People are very quick to label people with ADHD although they may have some other hyperactivity disorder. According to Web MD, in order to be correctly diagnosed with ADHD, one must have displayed symptoms in childhood. There are three types of ADHD: hyperactive-impulsive, inattentive, and a combination of both. I have the third, making it extremely hard for me to get even the most basic tasks done at times. While warning signs can be prevalent early on, the actual diagnosis comes later. My parents and I had suspicions about my ADHD from a young age, but I only received my diagnosis in my eighth grade year.

According to another article from childmind.org there are two neurochemicals that are important for attention focus, for the functioning of the prefrontal cortex region of the brain: dopamine and norepinephrine. Taking Adderall, Ritalin, or any other stimulant medicine helps to bring up the levels of these neurochemicals. Optimal levels of these neurochemicals can make brains focused, however too much can actually “stress out” the brain. Studies show that there’s an 80% chance of a response to the medicine. After years of therapy, I have discovered ways to keep my ADHD at bay, even if doing homework and other tasks takes me significantly longer than other children, as I can get distracted easily. I think that medication can be a viable tool to use, but ultimately it should be up to the child to decide on how to cope with their ADHD, as it is their life that is being affected. Remember, your life, your choice.

#mentalhealth #ADHD #equinetherapy #horsesfacilitatingchange #socialwork #parents #webmd #weareeagala #mentalawareness #kidschoice #BHRSD #braincenter #extraspecialteas #horses #equineasistedpsychotherapy #lifeskills #andreaharrington #probation #hillcresteducationalcenters