BA / BS / Masters of Divinity / Ed.D
At the age of five I received my first horse and so began the journey of learning from and working with horses. Thunder, a Shetland Palomino, forced me to think like a horse if I was going to ride Thunder, a parade horse, for more than twenty minutes. Because we did not own a saddle that fit Thunder, I learned how to become a skilled bareback rider. I learned to feel the move before it actually occurred. I now implement a similar approach, riding bareback, when working with people who wish to learn how to ride. During my college and seminary years, I was without a horse but the first thing I purchased when serving an open country parish was a horse. Chance Styles, a sorrel quarter horse, other than standing 15 hands as opposed to 12.3 hands, behavior was similar to Thunder’s. What Chance taught me was her behavior was rooted in the lacked of consistency. Chance had been passed from owner to owner and each lacked the knowledge of how to work with an “Alpha” mare.
With the purchase of Star Burner, a black and white paint stallion and several quarter and paint mares, Tammie and I began the adventure of breeding well-balanced, smart horses that had the ability to go in a variety of directions. The purchase of “Skippy”, a golden palomino colt out of the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame, Skipper W, complimented the academic work I was completing for my doctorate. Skippy affirmed that within a herd there are a select few horses that use power for the safety and well-being of other horses. These horses, in a non-aggressive manner, employ power that causes the Alpha mare to behave in less aggressive forms while empowering the Omega to become a part of the herd. These horses I have labeled as Deltas, “using power for the sake of others”, or among humans, to establish justice and peace. With a career change in 2006, Skippy accompanied me to Luther College, Decorah, IA., and assisted in my work with college students. Today, he still works with a host of individuals using power to support some and challenge others that all might experience justice.
In 2000, in addition to starting horses for a host of clients, I offered summer equine camps for youth who struggled with social and emotional stability in order to empower them to become Deltas. This same philosophy was used and continues to be the foundation of training (teaching) horses, working with individuals who desire to ride or improve riding skills, groups that wish to explore the dynamic of power, and equine therapy.
Horses invade every aspect of my life. In 2013 I published my first book and of course horses played a critical role. In 2016, my second and third books became available and again horses are major characters. One of the books is entitled, Horses In Heaven.
Striving to be a Delta is not something I do only with horses it is a way of life. As the Equine Specialist it is my role as a Delta to establish the PACE, Patience, Acceptance, Consistency, and Empathy whether it is a therapy session, a learning environment, starting a colt, or providing riding instruction. I can only smile when I think what Thunder started more than fifty years ago.
BSW/ MSW / LICSW
I had no idea I would grow up to love horses. My first memorable experience on a horse was at my grandparents farm riding “Silver,” a beautiful palomino horse who was a gentle giant. I didn’t grow up on a farm but on 1st Street in Willmar, MN. I always had a love for animals, mostly dogs and cats. While in high school I talked my dad into building me a huge cage in our back yard so I could raise rabbits for my FFA project. I started to love horses when I met my cowboy, Doug. Doug and I have been married for 15 years and have four daughters, five grandchildren, ten horses, five dogs and two cats.
I am a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker. For the past 19 years I have been a School Social Worker and have done some private practice on the side. In 2014, Doug and I opened up a charter school, DREAM Technical Academy, in Willmar. This new school was one of our dreams, to provide a place for students to explore their dreams through individualized project-based learning. In 2016, we embarked on our next dream by opening Delta Equine Center, to provide equine assisted therapy and learning opportunities.
Change and growth do not have to be painful. My goal as a therapist is to assist people in reconnecting with things that are positive and healing in their lives. Like many therapists, I don't tie myself to any one approach. Instead, I am interested in Holistic and Integrative Therapies that involve blending or integrating elements from different approaches and tailoring treatment according to each participant's needs. Adding Equine Assisted Psychotherapy to my practice will allow the horses to work their own simple magic to help people transform their lives. This powerful client-centered and heart-centered approach is opening many new doors and is helping me develop a sense of the interrelationship between humans and horses. I am passionate about the healing possibilities and learning opportunities this approach offers people who are looking for alternative ways to heal, grow and/or deepen their relationships with self and others. You may find this approach helpful if you are navigating life transitions and looking for clarity or if you are feeling stuck in life.
Numerous studies have shown the effective treatment of a wide range of conditions such as anxiety, autism, dementia, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, post traumatic stress disorder, and eating disorders through the use of Equine Assisted Therapy (EAP).
According to Dr. Laurie Sullivan-Sakeada, a Utah based Clinical Psychologist and leading practitioner of EAP, “one session of EAP in the barn is equal to five sessions on the couch.” I’m looking forward to journeying with people as they experience growth, learning and healing while working with horses.
Delta Equine Center is an 8 acre ranch nestled in the beautiful, rolling hills just 5 miles NE of Willmar, Minnesota near the Glacial Ridge Trail. Delta Equine Center is committed to providing the highest level of services through positive, supportive, experiential learning. We seek to improve the well being of individuals, families, and communities through our innovative programs. We work with schools, community agencies, hospitals, treatment facilities, businesses and governmental bodies to achieve individual or group goals.
Delta Equine Center offers creative and innovative experiential equestrian activities to assist people in finding balance in their life. Through equine facilitated programs, the principles of horsemanship are used to guide a personal journey of growth that leads to self-awareness and transformation.
The Delta Equine Center Team
To provide a safe journey as people explore working with horses to facilitate
growth, learning and healing.
To uphold the highest standards of excellence to
serve individuals, groups and the community through our mission by creating impactful, positive, life-changing experiences.
Delta Equine Center is part of The EAGALA Network of more than 4,400 Mental Health Professionals and Equine Specialists in 50 countries. Tammie and Doug are professionals trained and credentialed to offer The EAGALA Model exclusively to their participants. The EAGALA Model is an innovative, ethical set of best practices that builds on the human/ horse connection to help people learn more about themselves and to use that learning to change their lives.
“Let a horse whisper in your ear and breathe on your heart and you will find peace and wholeness.”
The Delta Equine Center logo embodies the Delta symbol, a Greek letter represented by a triangle, which is placed in the heart of the horse. At the top of the Delta insignia is the client, to the right is the equine assisted psychotherapist and to the left is the equine assisted specialist. The logo signifies the team assembled and the balance needed for the transformation of lives.
There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.