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Healing Arenas Building On Success
A check presentation was made at the Healing Arenas Open House on Thursday evening, with program officials providing $600 to the Gary Sinise Foundation on behalf of Justin Williams, a Navy corpsman who passed away just a few days shy of getting out of the military. From left, Dr. Dan Prine, Justins father Tony Williams, Julie Baker of Healing Arenas and Crista Swier. Marg Jackson/The Times

With a number of programs – designed to provide solutions for ‘humans and horses’ – the Healing Arenas, Inc. on Combs Road in Escalon is growing and getting stronger.

An open house at the site on Thursday offered an introduction to the programs and services offered, along with some background on the arena and recognition for some special guests.

The Healing Arenas works in conjunction with the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association, EAGALA, to “support emotional healing through equine interaction” and provide a safe home for retired racehorses in the process.

Julie Baker, who oversees the Healing Arenas program, welcomed the crowd and following a flag ceremony and special music by EHS band members, information was provided about the unique arena.

The retired racehorses are utilized at the arena in a program that provides equine assisted psychotherapy and learning experiences that help with PTSD, grief, anxiety, fear, life transitions and more.

Locally, their projects include Stable Survivors, focusing on veterans, Stable Practitioners, for first responders and health care providers, Stable Kids, which serves foster youth and the Retired Racehorse Project, through which residents can adopt quality re-trained racehorses. Also, Second Chances California works with probationers and Stable Journeys is an amputee project.

“I’ve been doing psychotherapy for 20 years,” Dr. Dan Prine said. “This is the most effective hands on work I’ve ever done.”

Prine serves as a board member and said the work done helps both humans and horses, who bond in a special way while both sorting out issues.

He said it is especially beneficial for veterans.

“They learn how to deal with their physical pain as well as their emotional pain,” he said.

Baker noted how she was able to attend a special program at the State Capitol earlier this year, bringing information about the program and seeking support for their efforts.

An Oct. 8 ‘Shooting for the Stables’ event is planned at the Escalon Sportsman’s Club, the second annual, which will help raise money. Last year’s inaugural shoot resulted in a $600 donation to the Gary Sinise Foundation (benefitting veterans) and it was presented on Thursday night.