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 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 TODAY. For more information on how to register call us at (413) 698-3700 or email us at


FROM: Berkshire HorseWorks Inc, EAGALA Certified Program

CONTACT: Hayley Sumner,,

(310) 488-9777

For Immediate Release



Barbecue Hoedown to Follow/ $100 hidden on trail

Register: 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 today or by emailing 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 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 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

Horse-Assisted Therapy for Inmates

Horse-Assisted Therapy for Inmates

Everyone deserves a second chance at a productive and empathetic life. We at BHW have been committed to helping those incarcerated in our community with exactly that, The “Own it and Up” eight week program helps local inmates acquire the tools to deal with their anger, mitigate their anxiety, discover self -worth, and develop healthy relationships and coping skills. We are thrilled that we have received a grant from the Donald C. McGraw Foundation to continue this much needed work and that Sheriff Thomas Bowler continues to invest in these men so they can enter the community with hope and skills to succeed. Please click the link below to learn more about the program.

Protecting the Innocence of Our Youth From Bullying

Protecting the Innocence of Our Youth From Bullying

Hi again! It’s Riagain, an intern at Berkshire HorseWorks from Miss Hall’s’ School. As a protective older sister of a 3rd grader, bullying has become an increasingly important topic for me, whether it be g verbal abuse, physical abuse, or cyberbullying. It is important that I am able to make people aware of how we can prevent situations like these, especially in elementary schools where bullying is the most prevalent.

According to survey taken by over 11,000 fourth through eleventh grades from across the country from,, almost 3.6% of elementary school children have voiced experience at school with violence, compared to 2.2% in middle school, and 1.3% in high school (violence in middle and high schools is often more serious than violence in elementary school). According to, the reason that bulling is so prevalent in elementary schools is because the role of the “bully” and the “victim” can often be blurred at that age. The same child can be the victim of bullying one day and display those same bullying behaviors the next day. Here are some coping mechanisms that I believe are effective.

For Children:

  • Walk away: It’ll show the bully that their behavior is not acceptable
  • Find an adult to help with the problem
  • Tell the bully that what they are doing is wrong and that you don’t like it
  • Find strength in numbers: Ask classmates or friends for support
  • Use your voice

For Parents::

  • Meet with the principle, counselor, etc. and keep in contact.
  • Talk with your child about their day, friends, lunch time (ie. what they did outside and who they played with)
  • Get your child to join in activities
  • Stop bullying when you see it. Praise children for standing up to the bullies.

Set a good example yourself. Speak about others in a positive light and try your best to be inclusive.

Social Anxiety and Brain States

Hello! I am Riagain Wiley, an intern at Berkshire HorseWorks from Miss Hall’s School. As someone who has suffered from anxiety my entire life, it is important to me to be able to share information about how it affects me and also recent studies that may help you or others you know. Relatively new research has been released, implying that social anxiety stems not from a phobia of the actual situation itself, but from how people around the person react to the situation.

I have a severe case of social anxiety which, if left unchecked could potentially cause me to miss opportunities that I need and want. For years, I would not speak up when there was something I needed to say whether it was in class or another public setting, in fear of being judged by my peers. This stopped me from showing off what I was capable, and people tended to overlook me because of my lack of self-confidence and my social anxiety. I had to work for years on finding ways (even if they were small) to open up and start to believe that my ideas were worth sharing and that people wouldn’t judge me on every little thing I did. At first, talking in public settings felt like it was the end of the world. I was stuttering and would forget my ideas all the time. As time passed, I gained practice and knowledge in public speaking, and although my anxiety never ceased, I have better coping mechanisms, helping me to overcome my anxiety. Now I compete in varsity sports, singing competitions, have joined a band, and am a member of my school’s a capella group. Anxiety is still a prominent factor in my life, but I have ceased letting it dictate what I can and cannot

According to an online article by Psychology Today called “New Research Reveals Neural Roots of Social Anxiety”, anxiety is a broad term, meaning the symptoms and experiences can vary on the type of anxiety being experienced. Personally, I have a social anxiety disorder (social phobia) which is the overwhelming self-consciousness in ordinary social encounters, heightened by a sense of being watched and judged by others and a fear of embarrassment. Despite common misconceptions, anxiety disorders are more than just nervousness and worrying, they can also include irrational thought which can not be distinguished from rational thought by the person suffering from the anxiety. Some coping mechanisms include:

  • Breathe away anxiety. Deep breaths do work!
  • Shift your focus. Find an activity or person to distract you from the source (personally my work at Berkshire HorseWorks is a great source of therapy).
  • Be willing to experience discomfort.
  • Tolerate uncertainty. Realize everything is not under your control.

BHW In the Press – Benefits of CSR Teambuilding

A recent article published in the October issue of Insurance & Financial Meetings Management titled “CSR-Enhanced Teambuilding: Delivering a ‘Return on Emotion,'” speaks to the tremendous benefits of corporate teambuilding. According to Jonathan Denmark, President and COO of MountainOne Insurance, who recently brought his sales team to Berkshire HorseWorks for a half day equine assisted teambuilding workshop, “It really humanized people. It broke down a lot of the thick barriers and made them a little more vulnerable… The feedback was absolutely incredible. They say, ‘This is really unique. My company and my leader really care about me. They want us to improve in these situations.'” Corporate social responsibility (CSR) teambuilding has always existed to improve the cohesiveness of companies, but now the options have evolved beyond “ropes courses and bike building.” Some key benefits of Equine Assisted Teambuilding (EAT) programming include:

  • Enhanced Problem-Solving
  • Increased Empathy
  • Navigation of Cultural Differences

Berkshire HorseWorks, now celebrating its 5th year, has increased its focus on cultivating equine assisted teambuilding workshops, the money from which will go directly fund therapeutic equine programs for those at risk. To learn more about CSR teambuilding and the work done here at BHW check out the article (on page 22) in the link below.

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