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Horse therapy in Kelowna gets people out of a clinic and into the outdoors

Equine Spirit Therapy and Learning is run out of Spirit Ridge Equestrian Ranch in Kelowna
Barbie Gervais and a horse named Mango at Spirit Ridge Equestrian Ranch, where she offers equine therapy. (Jacqueline Gelineau/Capital News)

Equine Spirit Therapy and Learning is an oasis of calm and healing energy tucked into Glenmore’s hills in the north end of Kelowna.

The program, run by Barbie Gervais out of Spirit Ridge Equestrian Ranch, provides people with the opportunity to work with horses, and other animals for the purpose of healing.

“Horses have a unique ability to mirror our thoughts and feelings,” said Gervais.

As a facilitator, Gervais works with people to feel comfortable around the animals and helps her clients to realize the changes and insights that they are experiencing.

She works with both children and adults, including those who live with physical and mental disabilities and mental illness.

“Equine-assisted learning is predominantly a non-verbal communication or therapy.”

By helping people to interact with their chosen horses at their own pace, Gervais said that her clients are able to open up emotionally in ways that they are often unable to achieve in a traditional office setting.

Being around animals can be beneficial for those who are non-verbal or selectively verbal, since animals are able to communicate and understand people without words.

The equine therapy sessions are offered privately and in group settings. People typically do not ride the horses during their session, but instead brush, pat and interact with the animals.

Gervais realized her ability to help bridge the gap between human and horse emotional connections after she was asked to look after a friend’s ranch. Since that experience began to she rescue horses and came to realize that her gift of facilitating communication and healing was something that people desired.

In addition to equine therapy, Gervais also runs a program called Little Farmers, where children learn to care for animals including pigs, chickens, goats, rabbits and ducks, and tend to a garden.

For more information on the programs available visit or contact Gervais at or (250)575-2612.


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Jacqueline Gelineau

About the Author: Jacqueline Gelineau

I'm a reporter in the beginning stages of my career. I joined the team at Capital News in November 2021...
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