Adrienne’s Story

About Adrienne Freeland

Adrienne Freeland is the Executive Director and founder of Holistic Horsemanship Services 501C3. Adrienne obtained her BS in Therapeutic Recreation from West Virginia University in 1988 and was a Recreational Therapist in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, specializing in Neurological Rehabilitation for 12 years. After taking time away to raise her family, she became Certified by The Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International, PATH CTRI. Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor.

Adrienne is in her second year of Graduate School to obtain her Master’s in Mental Health Counseling. Licensed Professional Counseling, LPC certification. She currently holds a 4.0 GPA with an expected Graduation in the Fall of 2024.

Professional Memberships:
• West Virginia University Alumni Association
• Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship
• Northern Virginia Licensed Professional Counselors Student Member

Adrienne’s Story

Holistic Horsemanship Services 501C3 was developed because of Adrienne’s history and passion for serving others. The barn and horses, and other livestock have been a constant source of structure and consistency throughout her life. 4H, animal care, farm chores, and riding horses grounded her.

A childhood affected by her mother’s illness of Guillain Barre Syndrome and tragic death due to a kitchen fire, which her mother could not escape due to her dependence on a walker for ambulation. Caring for her father during his battle with prostate cancer, with the help of Hospice, the loss of her brother, an Army Veteran, to suicide, and most recently, in 2021, a Breast Cancer diagnosis after a routine mammogram. Struggles and challenges where the barn and the herd brought her respite, routine, structure, comfort without judgment and healing.

As a Recreational Therapist, Adrienne is acutely aware that a healthy lifestyle, mindset, recreation, and leisure pursuits to look forward to can combat many troubles and are essential, especially during crises and trauma. Delivering Equine Assisted Learning for Personal Development is what Adrienne brings to all her participants and clients. Mindfulness, self-awareness, self-acceptance, and the realization of what a person’s conflict does to them and to all of those around them.

We educate others that a grateful heart and self-awareness can help us progress despite personal struggles. With the herd as her co-facilitators, she teaches the dance of Leadership-Partnership-Connection. Mindful versus Mind full. Thanks to overbooked schedules and technology, we live in an Era of disconnect. Time at the farm with the herd helps us to embrace the moment, no matter the chaos or traumas we endure.

Scholarship Essay 2023 Northern Virginia Licensed Professional Counselors (NVLPC)

by Adrienne Freeland

Working through grief, I discovered that the most therapeutic and healing space was with my horses and being in my barn. As a Recreational Therapist and Equine Assisted Learning provider, I knew that an active leisure lifestyle was essential to overall health and well-being. Time outdoors and being involved with nature and animals increases our mindfulness and ability to live in the moment.
In March 2016, my brother DEM, US Army Sergeant First Class veteran, died by suicide. No previous grief experiences prepared me for this loss. I sought counseling and grief support through various venues. One suicide grief support group was in a local county courthouse basement in a mock meeting/storage room. I left deflated, even sadder, and depressed. It did, however, leave me with an idea. In my previous experiences of death, dying, and grief, the barn, and my horses had been my respite. What if I began a grief support group involving the herd, time outdoors, and being in the natural non-sterile environment of the barn? Wh0m do you call if you want to start a grief support group? Hospice seemed like an excellent place to start. So it began; after several phone calls, an in-service for hospice staff, and some scheduling and planning, “Exploring Grief through Equine Assisted Learning” came to fruition. This group is now held three to four times yearly in three-week segments. Participants enroll through Blue Ridge Hospice. Week one is a meet and greet with a name each horse icebreaker. In this first evening, releases are signed, tours are given, and our grief stories are shared in the safe space of the barn with others experiencing grief and horses, of course. Week two involves more hands-on experiences, including grooming and handling haltered horses. During grooming, the self-care and wellness of the participants are discussed. Week three includes leading and guiding a horse through obstacle courses where things like yoga mats, barrels, and giant water bottles represent the struggles and challenges of grief. This group, developed out of self-need and lack of outdoor options, has a proven track record with excellent survey results. Grief can be overwhelming and incredibly isolating. Grief support can come in a multitude of options and sources. I plan to continue hosting this group and adding weekend farm clinics to encourage entire-family participation. A family that addresses grief together is better positioned to support one another. Getting younger children and adolescents into counseling may be difficult, but a farm outing may seem less daunting. Grief support is my passion. Experiencing unexpected loss can be devastating to even the most vital individuals. Lifting others through various forms of grief support helps those struggling realize they are not alone. Talk Therapy is not for everyone, especially children and adolescents. Let’s create safe, unique spaces for grievers to share and be heard. The herd can be that unique source! Through my Graduate school coursework, I am currently gravitating toward Family Systems and Experiential, hands-on participation in farm chores and walking and hiking while talking. I am a mature student and an out-of-the-box thinker. I want to create a safe after-work, boots-on-the-ground type space for clients.

– Adrienne is a Therapeutic Recreation Specialist in Physical Medicine and Rehab and has specialized in Neurological rehab with an emphasis on TBI for 15 years. After taking time away to raise her children she became a PATH International Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship certified therapeutic riding instructor. She is currently the owner and operator of Holistic Horsemanship Services 501 (C) 3. She is certified level II in Natural Horsemanship and continues to address equine welfare. Her areas of interest are Equine Assisted Learning for Personal Development as well as specializing in neurologically involved clientele, grief support and education, and active military transition support She has current collaborations with Blue Ridge Hospice, Boulder Crest Foundation, Walter Reed, Laurel Ridge Community College, and Shenandoah University. Adrienne is currently in her second year of graduate school for Mental Health Counseling.

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