Gerry Equine Therapy Group To Create Mobile Unit To Help Those With PTSD

Pictured from left to right: Kimberly J. Warner, LMSW, CASAC-T; Nancy Johnson, Event Coordinator; Sue Dykstra, Quality Control; Tyler Dykstra, licensed NYS Teach/Facilitator; Dawn Samuelson, Executive Director/Founder/EAB, EAL; Bonna Westerlund, Volunteer; Dena Hirliman, Facilitator/Event Coordinator. Board Members absent from photo: Greg G. Holt, NEIGH Board of Directors President, Retired NYS Trooper; Greg K. Gibbs, Ph.D., Dept. Chair St. Bonaventure University, National Commander for the Sons of the American legion, Member Board Directors for SUNY Fredonia; Kirk G. Allen, Jr. Vice Commander, Chautauqua County Council VFM; Meaghan Dykstra, Treasurer. Submitted image.

GERRY – A local group dedicated to helping those suffering with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is creating a mobile therapy unit to better help those in need.

N.E.I.G.H., the National Equine Institute of Growth through Healing, Inc., provides equine-assisted therapy and learning to help clients improve their emotional, mental, and social well-being.

The organization’s founder, Dawn Samuelson, says a recent donation by Happy Hounds Hotel will be used to create a new mobile therapy unit.

“If people can’t come to us, we’ll come to them,” said Samuelson. “We set up at VA hospitals, schools, military bases, and fire departments as well, wherever the need is.”

The trained equine therapists aid in the prevention of suicide using the horses to connect with clients.

“We teach them confidence and assertiveness that they can use in their everyday life,” said Samuelson. “The horses help to show how we’re viewed, and we can change our behavior to better communicate with others.”

The hands-on approach of The Constance Project and Beyond the Reins creates a safe environment for self-discovery and empowerment, so clients can find peace-of-mind, Samuelson said.

“I think it’s very important we maintain their mental stability as well. Our facilitators need to be trained to be aware of that, and things may need to be adjusted accordingly,” said Samuelson. “The horses love the attention too. It’s almost like they know when somebody needs a hug.”

Donations can be sent by mail to PO Box 104, Gerry, NY 14740 or visit them online at

If you or someone you know could benefit from N.E.I.G.H.’s programs, contact them at (716) 985-1066 or by email at


Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.