Would you like to sponsor a UECP Session?
If you would like to support the pilot phase of this exciting new program, we invite you to consider becoming an Urban Equine Connection Program (UECP) Sponsor!
Sponsorship contributions can be paid via PayPal in one of two ways (please note "UECP" in the comments either way!):
Directly to Unbridled, LLC:
Checks made out to Unbridled LLC with "UECP" in the note line can also be mailed to 5743 Sauldam Road, Ravenel, SC 29470.
Through our partnering fiscal agent, The Illumination Society 501(c)3 (Federal EIN 22-3218395), for charitable tax purposes:
Checks made out to the Illumination Society with "UECP" in the note line can also be mailed to PO Box 10776, Newburgh, NY 12552.
The average UECP session lasts two hours at a cost of $150/hour for up to three participants. Sponsors contributing $3,000 or more annually (enabling us to positively impact up to 30 individuals!) will qualify as Herd Leaders and will be invited to a private reception at the Unbridled farm later this year.
Note: Families that participate in The Urban Equine Connection Program are asked to make a financial contribution at whatever level they can, whether it be $5 or $50. Participants will also be required to write a note of appreciation we can share with the sponsors whose generosity make this program possible.
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1. To help low-income children and families from inner-city or suburban neighborhoods (especially those of color) overcome any possible fears and misconceptions they may have about horses.
2. To nurture empathy, as well as love and respect for self and others, by facilitating safe and impactful experiences for children/families in the target population to interact directly with horses. The power of this program lies in the magic of bringing horses and humans together who (individually and collectively) share the struggle of learning to cope effectively with challenging life circumstances.
3. To provide a safe, intimate, friendly, respectful and enjoyable experience where authentic connection is built based on empathy, freedom of choice, freedom of expression, mutual curiosity and a deep sense of wonder and exploration.
Alternative to Traditional Therapy
Formal therapy and counseling are often seen as taboo within low-income communities of color where the church is considered the only safe place to go for help. And in Black families in particular, the women are usually expected to carry the burden of being the glue that keeps everyone (and everything) together. Mistrust of experts who don’t come from within their community (i.e. ‘’We don’t talk to outsiders about our family problems”) is a major obstacle when it comes to getting needed support for mental and emotional health. Any activity that “suggests” therapy is likely to be met with resistance.
4. To facilitate organic heart-felt interactions that are equally respectful and healing for the humans and the horses.
Author Kimberly Mills
& daughter JaKiyah
The Urban Equine Connection Program (UECP)
A Sacred Space for Vulnerability
One of the most important factors when facilitating transformational experiences for at-risk youth is creating a safe, relaxing and calm environment where vulnerability feels natural. Horses can really help with this.
The Unbridled Farm is not your typical equestrian establishment or business facility. It’s Kim Hallin’s private residence and the four special horses who provide the foundation for The Urban Equine Connection Program are members of her family. The only “job” these horses have is to be authentic, to honor their true nature and to share their innate gifts for connecting with the participants at a highly intuitive level.
Any experience of confronting and overcoming a major fear is deeply empowering. When a child (or adult) can also realize that a fear they’ve been harboring is based largely in misunderstanding and misperception, they begin to recognize the benefit of questioning their existing perceptions and beliefs about other things too. This opens up a whole new world of possibility, particularly when the participant can be gently encouraged to look for potential in other places they might never have imagined it could exist – including within themselves and others.
When horses are given the autonomy, freedom of choice and opportunity to express their true nature authentically, they behave very differently than when they feel constrained, controlled or manipulated. The same is true for us. When a young person witnesses and experiences this different way of being - both with horses and with themselves - a lightbulb of monumental proportions gets turned on.
And from there, the possibilities are endless…
In almost all cases, these collective images, stories and experiences create some level of fear and hesitation about interacting with horses. And yet, many of these children and adults still hold a deep fascination for horses and are eager to learn more.
Meanwhile, just about every horse living in captivity has experienced some level of coercion, manipulation, physical pain, emotional stress or blatant abuse doled out by human hands. Rarely do horses have the opportunity to interact with humans in any capacity other than as beasts of burden. It’s truly beautiful to see the transformations in engagement, trust, confidence and curiosity from both the humans and the horses who participate in these healing sessions.
When participants visit Unbridled, they quickly recognize they have arrived somewhere special. Children are always accompanied by a familiar, trusted and responsible adult from their own “world”. Kim graciously welcomes the guests into her home and introduces her animals as beloved members of the family, all of which helps to create an intimate atmosphere and feelings of safety. Whenever possible, Kim introduces the responsible adult to the property and the horses in advance so that there is an immediate rapport and sense of familiarity when the children are brought on site.
Most low-income urban and suburban children and families have never had the opportunity to interact directly with horses. Their perceptions about horses (and other large animals) are often based in images portrayed in movies or on TV, stories in the news or personal accounts offered by friends and family members who’ve had (sometimes frightening or traumatic) experiences with large animals. In some cases, direct personal experiences with mounted police or interactions with working carriage horses in downtown settings may have shaped the individual’s perceptions of horses - and their relationship to them.
Kim Hallin would like to express love and appreciation to her co-founding partners for the Urban Equine Connection Program: