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31
Dec

Pony Power: An equine-assisted activity center practicing regenerative design

Pony Power Therapies sits at the Ramapo mountains’ foothills in Bergen County. Pony Power uses horses and an accessible farm to enhance the physical, social, and emotional wellbeing of children and adults who need extra support. Participants range in age from toddlers to nonagenarians and are inclusive of all diagnoses. The horse and human connection are the foundation of all programming at the farm center. At Pony Power, our horses serve as a guide to our relationship with nature.  

Sustainability and Regenerative design

The broad concept of sustainability suggests an efficient use of resources to satisfy basic needs. Regenerative design is a “whole systems” approach to design. It incorporates sustainability as a concept and goes a step further to consider the whole system’s impact. Pony Power believes in entire systems and works daily to highlight that concept for humans, horses, and our natural environment. 

Basic needs include clean air, water and soil, access to food and shelter, safety in our living environment, exercise and movement, a community that needs and wants us, and moments free from stress. It’s a universal concept that applies to both humans and horses. If one piece of the equation is missing, the entire system is affected. Horses model the interconnectedness between humans and the environment tangibly. At Pony Power, we use the farm’s rhythm and day-to-day care as a teaching tool for concrete and symbolic learning. The natural setting at Pony Power encourages movement and provides a rich sensory experience, all of which ignite a sense of connection and empowerment. 

Pony Power, as an Equine Assisted Activity (EAA) Center modeling sustainable, regenerative practices 

Horses are motivators. When in the proximity of horses, we tend to pay better attention and are aware of our surroundings. A horse relies on body language and instinct and reading cues from their herd and environment to alert them to danger and safety. Horses take what they need from the land and leave an excellent product that helps fertilize the soil. When horses have their basic needs met, there is a balance in their behavior and the community. Pony Power uses horses and the farm as a guide to sustainable, regenerative practice. If it works for our horses, it most likely works for us as human animals. Famed environmentalist David Suzuki suggested that “there is no waste in nature,” a metaphor that drives the Pony Power community’s decisions. At Pony Power, we take that concept literally to mean we need to pay attention to our waste from food and packages, fuel, water, and materials. Perhaps most importantly, people-nothing is wasted, and all energy gets recycled. If we assume that our resources are finite, then there is a use and reason for everything, including our most vulnerable populations.  

Pony Power looks at sustainability from all aspects: environment, horses, humans, and systems. Horses model for humans, without words, the art of intuitively knowing what is needed to have a balanced and secure existence. With the digital and industrial advances, humans have lost some key competencies when trusting instincts. Nothing about seeking balance, having a connection to nature, or sustainability is new or innovative. Quite the opposite: horses in nature invite humans to return to the moment, feel feelings, be inspired by imagination and beauty in nature, and experience what a balanced life looks like. 

Benefits to the Community 

Pony Power, an EAA center, explores the essential day to day practices based on regenerative design. Can we not only be thinking about our resources, can we replenish or grow our resources? One of the basic needs is to be a contributing and purposeful member of a community. At Pony Power, along with rescued or donated animals’ care, we are beekeepers. We have developed a caring and sharing garden that is fully accessible, we are composting, and we are adding back species of plants that will support these practices. Collectively we work together while engaging with nature. An army of community volunteers supports the most amazing participants and professional staff. As a nonprofit, Pony Power operates under the core value system of being specifically for the entire public and social wellbeing.  

Want to get involved? 

Pony Power stewards a 13-acre campus and borders many more green acres. While the legal land boundaries are under our control, we understand our community’s place and our responsibility to be good stewards to our neighbors if we consider our neighbors inclusively to include the land, the people, the animals, and the ecosystem. Please feel free to reach out with any questions, and please consider following Pony Power as we manage through the COVID-19 pandemic using horses in nature as our guide. www.ponypowernj.org 

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