Healing Reins

Vision Statement: Restoring HOPE is at the center of everything we do at Healing Reins. By utilizing creative approaches and multiple evidence-based modalities, this unique equine therapy program is helping to bring hope into hopeless situations for at-risk youth and military families struggling with mental health and behavioral challenges.

We partner with highly experienced, licensed therapists and certified equine specialists in order to provide the highest quality of care to our clients. Healing Reins exists to assist children, youth, adults and families who are seeking emotional well-being, through the use of equine assisted counseling. Our program promotes individual and family growth by using the dynamic relationship between client and horse to assist in building trust, non-verbal and verbal communication skills, as well as self-awareness, self-control and coping skills.

This unique 12-week program includes a combination of on-the-ground and horseback activities. Our treatment philosophy is built upon mutual respect, confidentiality and a spirit of hope and encouragement. We are EAGALA and OK Corral certified and have trauma-informed programs specifically tailored to foster and adopted youth as well as our honored veterans and their families.

Please contact us for rates. Scholarships available. For information about scheduling & scholarships: Email Us

Healing Reins is a wholly owned entity of Dogwood Ranch, a 501(c)3 Non-Profit.

Meet the Team

Jenifer Sturdivan
Licenced Professional Counsleor

Jenifer Sturdivan is a licensed professional counselor in Southwest Missouri and has served in this capacity for the past 20 years. She is the owner and lead therapist at Reclaimed Hearts Therapeutic Services where she specializes in clinical disorders, court-ordered high conflict co-parenting,  and sex trafficking. She also serves on the leadership team of Stand Against Trafficking. She presents education and awareness to schools, hospitals, families, and anyone else interested in learning about human trafficking in the Ozarks. She is a gifted teacher having taught Theories of Personality and Abnormal Psychology at College of the Ozarks. She recently presented a lecture entitled “Understanding Child Development as a GAL” for the Missouri Bar Family Law Conference in Branson. Jenifer lives in Springfield, MO, with her son, Judah, and their dog, Dexter. 

Dana Lopez
Healing Reins Director

Dana’s love of horses started early on in life and has continued throughout her adult years. In 2009, she became certified as an Equine Specialist with OK Corral Series and learned just how powerful the human horse connection truly is, from a therapeutic stand point. She loves serving in her capacity of Healing Reins Director, helping to coordinate wholeness and restoration for the clients that the program serves.

Krislyn West
 Equine Specialist

Krislyn’s bond with horses began as a toddler. Her connection to horses has remained strong as an adult. She truly believes horses are good for the soul & can see right through us to help heal the hurt. She discovered many years ago how important of a role horses play in overcoming hurdles life can throw at us. God gave her a dream as a young girl that one day she would be have a ranch for troubled kids to reach those that were lost, unloved, misunderstood. She is so excited to be part of the Healing Reins team and watch as God’s plan unfolds.

Sam Crowell
Equine Specialist

Sam grew up in Florida and has always loved the outdoors. He spent the majority of his free time training and riding horses, and found a true passion for connecting with them emotionally as well. He joined the US Marine Corps in 1968 and served in Vietnam. He returned home with physical scars as well as emotional wounds, which is now identified as PTSD. Because of his love and connection with horses, he spent many hours horseback, which he now realizes was his way of self medicating and dealing with his trauma. He truly believes that the Lord gave him the gift of horses to carry him through the dark and difficult days of emotional healing. Sam is now a licensed Equine Specialist with OK Corral and is passionate about helping Veterans who are struggling with PTSD, as well as helping their families, who are on the journey to wholeness. Healing Reins has also given him the opportunity to share his passion with the precious youth who lovingly refer to him as “Cowboy” or “Papa Sam”.

See what others have
to say about Healing Reins!

“I’m writing to tell you how much my foster daughter enjoyed her 12 week equine therapy program. She is 15 years old and has severe Reactive Attachment Disorder along with more diagnosis than any child should have. She also has Bi-polar, Schizophrenia, PTSD, ADHD, ODD, Conduct Disorder, Kleptomania, Disassociate Disorder and Enuresis. She has been in active therapy since she was a toddler. She hates traditional therapy and does not respond well. It makes my heart so happy to see her excited every week for equine therapy.

She does a fantastic job translating what she has learned each session into her real life. For instance she has learned that TRUST is the first step that must be learned between herself and her horse. She has learned to halter her horse, groom him, feed him, lead him and eventually she was ready to ride him.

When I asked her how she could compare trust to her own life, I could see a light turn on and she began realizing that she wasn’t allowing us as her parents to take care of her. She has never been able to let go and trust anyone to take care of her. Our daughter had 17 foster placements before the age of 5. We have had her ever since. Her behaviors were so severe that the foster parents kept giving her back.

Another great lesson along with trust is CONTROL. Once at therapy after a huge rainstorm, she haltered her horse but he would not walk through a small stream of water. She was in mud up to her ankles. She pulled and pushed and yelled, but no luck, he would not move. Her horse was in control. Ms. Kathy and Ms. Marcia helped her horse walk through the stream while she led him where ever she wanted to go. After deciding what activities that she wanted her horse to do, she realized that she was controlling a 1200 lb animal.

It is so very interesting to me how her horse can sense her behaviors. As soon as she would walk up to him, he would pace nervously around her. He would snort at her and run wild in the round pen. These lessons are HUGE for her. It will always be a work in progress during her lifetime. We are so fortunate to have been able to participate in your equine therapy. If your scholarship had not been available to us, we would not have been able to have the experience.”

“We have been doing equine assisted therapy for about 2 months with my 12 year old foster daughter. She comes from a background of abuse/neglect/sexual trauma starting at a very young age and continuing for many years before being removed from her environment. She was not talking about her trauma but was acting it out in her behaviors in the home and in social settings. She was using many behaviors to avoid her real issues and the pain. In equine therapy there were a series of activities she was requested to do. She could not engage in any of these activities. It soon became apparent that she was acting out her trauma in her interaction with the horses. As she began acting out this trauma in equine, she began talking about her trauma with appropriate adults.

She stopped avoiding the pain, but started working hard to confront and deal with it. As she continued acting out her trauma with the horses, she began connecting how her feelings/behaviors with others are connected to her feelings about earlier traumatic events in her life. My daughter has gone from not wanting to discuss past trauma or present problems to being able to talk about the past and willingness to problem solve in the present. She has gone from not being able to tell the truth at all to being able to be truthful a large percent of the time. She has gone from not being able to process correctly and logically most of time to having more mental stability. Working with the horses has given my daughter a safe environment to act out her trauma and given her a safe environment to start to heal!!”

“I had no idea the effect that equine assisted therapy would have on me! I had spent the last 3 years in intensive personal counseling and thought that I had dealt with a great deal of my past trauma, experiences and pain, but something about having the process and method of the sessions, coupled with the horse’s presence unlocked a deeper part of my heart that I did not know was possible.

Dana and her team were so professional in the way they expertly handled the horse’s behavior and simultaneously fostered a safe environment for my heart to open up in and “feel” at a very deep level. Her team assisted in helping me observe and learn about the horse’s behavior and helped me relate that in a very applicable way back to my own life. This hands on environment allowed me to kinesthetically learn about how to connect to the world around me and helped me come to some powerful personal conclusions that I would not have otherwise.

For those who are “stuck” in the traditional counseling method and not seeing any progress or for those, like me, who have already had a lot of counseling, I would highly recommend equine assisted therapy as a powerful method to see deep and lasting change at a heart level.”