Category Archives for "BHW Blog"

Hayley Spotlighted at The Berkshire Eagle!

Our very own Hayley Sumner was featured in an Executive Spotlight at The Berkshire Eagle. Take a look at the article here In it, Hayley answers questions about the idea and motivation behind BHW, what we do and where we’re going. We’re so proud of Hayley and the work she does for BHW and love seeing her spotlighted in this great way!

BBI Executive Spotlight on Hayley Sumner, the executive director of Berkshire HorseWorks.
Tuesday, May 18, 2021. (Ben Garver, The Berkshire Eagle)

The Berkshire Eagle Article on Berkshire HorseWorks Expanding Offerings and Inspire Partnership

Check out the March 5, 2021 article in The Berkshire Eagle about Berkshire HorseWorks efforts to expand our offerings and our partnership with Inspire. The article is reproduced below but you can read the original article here

Berkshire HorseWorks lands partnership, seeks to expand offerings

By Danny Jin, The Berkshire Eagle Mar 5, 2021

Hayley Sumner snuggles with Gunner, a therapy horse at Berkshire HorseWorks in Richmond. Berkshire HorseWorks is looking to adapt it offerings, in part through a new partnership.

RICHMOND — Berkshire HorseWorks is seeking to expand the ways it provides relief to those who need it, in part through a three-month partnership that the nonprofit says will bolster its programming.

Since 2013, Berkshire HorseWorks has provided horse-based psychotherapy through the Eagala model, an “evidence-based and experiential” approach rooted in cognitive behavioral therapy, said owner Hayley Sumner.

During the coronavirus pandemic, the nonprofit saw greater mental health needs in the community, but some people needed immediate relief, rather than long-term psychotherapy.

“The need had been voiced to us in a way that was really asking for help but was not necessarily psychotherapy,” Sumner said. “Families were undergoing a lot of anxiety and stress.”

Newer offerings include mindfulness-centered hikes with horses, free-range donkey play and art at the ranch.

Berkshire HorseWorks is midway through a partnership with Inspire, a national nonprofit of volunteer consultants.

The Inspire team is “thrilled to help the organization with their strategic initiatives,” it said in a news release.

In addition to eyeing additional revenue streams and broadening its offerings, Berkshire HorseWorks is seeking to add young professionals to expand its board.

Berkshire HorseWorks can be reached at or 413-698-3700.

Danny Jin, a Report for America corps member, is The Eagle’s Statehouse news reporter. He can be reached at, @djinreports on Twitter and 413-496-6221.

Danny Jin

Statehouse Reporter

Danny Jin is the Eagle’s Statehouse reporter. A graduate of Williams College, he previously interned at the Eagle and The Christian Science Monitor. Danny can be reached at or on Twitter at @djinreports

New Article about Hayley and Berkshire HorseWorks:

Recently Hayley and BHW were featured in a lengthy article on The article talks about how Hayley got into equine therapy amongst other things.

A copy of the article is below and here is a link to the website:

Here is the pdf link to the article:BHW Jewish Voice Article December 2020

Thoughts on the Impact of Pets on LGBTQ+ Young Adults

From personal experience, living away from my dog—who is with family due to travel restrictions during the pandemic—has been just one among many difficult losses over the last year. This is Julia writing; I’m a new volunteer at Berkshire HorseWorks, and I want to share a study about LGBTQ+ young adults and the animals in their lives. Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Social Work is looking at the impact that pets have on the lives of LGBTQ+ young adults (aged 15-21). The study began in 2018 and has evolved during the pandemic to include the ways in which pets have affected participants’ time in quarantine.

Interviews for the study are ongoing, and they offer a chance to gain more understanding about how young LGBTQ+ community members are uniquely impacted by their animals. A peripheral glance at a greeting card aisle or YouTube’s home screen is enough to reinforce the huge part pets play in our society. Accordingly, I was surprised to find out that almost no studies look at the specific experiences of LGBTQ+ individuals. The limited amount of research concerned with the intersection of animals and members of the LGBTQ+ community has been in relation to middle-aged/older adults.

Coming out to one’s family and friends is an experience that can range from affirming to traumatic, and many LGBTQ+ individuals have legitimate concerns over their safety and losing family members. Even if you don’t worry about negative reactions, finding someone capable of being both nonjudgmental and supportive can feel impossible. That’s why—as I know from experience—having a dog (or cat, fish, horse, perhaps a pet rock, etc.) can be so helpful. For some, the pandemic has provided a unique (and perhaps frustrating!) amount of time with their pets. Without access to larger communities of queer young adults, animals can provide at least some support despite the tremendous loss of in-person connection.

In the midst of struggling with my identity and how to articulate it, being with my dog gave me a break and an all-too-rare experience where someone cared more about who I was (or what treats I could offer…) than anything else. While being around people can sometimes feel fraught with tension or danger, spending time with animals offers a space where you won’t be judged for your pronouns or choice of partner.

Thoughts from a College Junior – Mental Health, COVID-19, Isolation, and the Benefits of Getting Outside.

Hello! My name is Olivia, I’m a Junior at UMass Amherst, and I’m currently interning at Berkshire HorseWorks. As a psychology major, I think mental health is extremely important. Everyone deals with difficult times, but it’s not often that the whole world is fighting the same battle together.

Although people of all ages are affected, the younger generations have been hit particularly hard. According to a recent survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “25.5 percent of adults between the ages of 18-24 reported having seriously considered suicide due to the pandemic.” The survey went on to discuss “how anxiety disorder was three times and depressive disorder was four times what was reported in the second quarter of 2019.”

As a young person, I can attest that things have been particularly difficult. It’s true there are new ways to stay connected: Students and employees are now learning or working online, and friends can stay connected over zoom. In fact, people in some ways are finding themselves closer together: college kids and adults are all home, meaning there is more time to spend with one’s family. But, personally, its challenging not to see my friends. After a while, the isolation, even with family, takes a toll. I experienced first-hand, the disappointment of being sent home mid semester and forced to take classes online at home instead of being at my college campus.

However, finding ways to get outside – even for a little while – has positively affected my mood. I have found that being at the ranch and interacting with the horses has helped relieve some of my stress. From spending time grooming and hiking with them, to getting a chance to sit in on EAGALA sessions with Hayley, I’ve both learned a lot and felt less alone. BHW offers equine-assisted programing and opportunities, whether you want mental health support in the form of Psychotherapy or just to get out of the house for some fresh air in the presence of horses. If you’re someone feeling particularly isolated by this pandemic, just know that you are not alone and we would like to help!


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