Right now, a little more than 10 miles from Fort Wayne, wind chimes are tinkling inside the horse barn at Creeare Ranch.
The sun is pouring through the skylights, a breeze is blowing through the open windows and, deep in the shade of the old barn, a wooden bench, a straw hat and a horse are waiting for you.
“Interacting with horses tells you so much about yourself and where you’re at in your life,” ranch owner Kim Myers Tubbs says. “If you know how to listen, they can really bring you back to who you are, rather than who you try to be for everyone else.”
Myers Tubbs, a lifelong horse lover and rural Columbia City resident, opened Creeare Ranch (www.creeareranch.com) in Columbia City in 2009. Inspired by Oregon-based ranch owner Kim Meeder’s book “Hope Rising” – a memoir about pairing rescued horses with traumatized children – Myers Tubbs hoped she and her horses (and her pony Brown Sugar and a burro named Sweetie Pie) could also assist people in the pursuit of creativity, personal growth and recovery from trauma, she says.
She began by offering programs such as “Dream It Up,” a four-week class where horses – somewhat unknowingly – teach humans how to achieve their creative goals.
“Horses are about forward movement and going in new directions,” she says. “When you are stuck in an area in your life, a horse can show you a direction to go. Just by mirroring your behavior, moods, physical conditions and emotions, they give you insight.”
Rather than riding the horses, the programs at Creeare Ranch involve one-on-one contact – brushing, walking and observing the horses’ behavior.
“It is rare to be able to interact with horses in this way,” Myers Tubbs says. “So many times, it’s all about riding them and not about watching them and learning from them.”
One of Myers Tubbs’ favorite exercises is to ask a client to pick up a horse’s foot. Often, the horse’s behavior will mirror a human’s personal or emotional struggles, she says.
“It tells you a lot about how you handle challenges and stress in your life,” she says. “Do they try to shove the foot? Do they have patience and honor the horse? Do they push their way through or change tactics?”
Leading a horse around in a circle can also give people insight into how they approach life, Myers Tubbs says. Often, the horse will stop and refuse to walk any farther. At that point, the person leading the horse has to decide how to proceed.
“Eventually, everyone realizes that if you cannot go forward, you have to turn in a new direction,” she says. “And when you apply that to life, it makes a lot of sense.”
Creeare Ranch also provides creativity programs for children, including horse dress-up parties where manes and tails are brushed and braided, ponies wear princess hats and children are allowed to drape boas across a burro’s neck.
Also available are drumming circles, personal sessions, sessions designed for senior citizens, grooming sessions and horse-assisted reiki.
“Horses can be powerful tools,” Myers Tubbs says. “They give us immediate feedback on our intentions and behaviors. They are so intuitive and caring. Being around them has such an effect on our mental well-being. And in our busy lives, we don’t get a chance to experience that often enough. It’s nice to get out into the country and take that break – even if it’s just for a horse hug.”