New equine mental health therapy in Topeka


TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Equine Therapy can be used for a variety of mental health conditions.

Michelle Warner is a social worker in Topeka who also struggles with depression and anxiety. She heard about Equine Therapy and decided to try it out.

“As someone in the mental health profession, going to a mental health professional can be a struggle. I know all of the techniques and it’s hard to open up to someone on the other side of the couch, so to speak. (But) in this realm it’s a horse. So that makes it a lot easier to open up,” explains Warner.

Rachel Fulcher, a mental health specialist in Topeka, teamed up with Cindy Branham an equine specialist and owner of Rockin’ RC Ranch and Mustang Redemption, to start an Equine Therapy program in Topeka.

“Cindy does a lot of evaluating the body language of the horses and some specific things that she is trained to look for; like patterns and shifts in dynamics. She is telling me this is going on through the whole session. So then we both use that, in processing to talk about what happened,” Fulcher explains.

“So what’s going on inside the patients, they see out there in the relationship with the horses,” says Branham.

The equine therapy program involves 9 horses, including once wild mustangs.

“These horses are even more sensitive to what is going on inside all of us, because they are just aware and always watching. As humans we are always producing non-verbal cues. When we have people go in there (the barn) with something going on in here (internally), those horses sense it know it, and reach it where we can’t,” explains Branham.

But you won’t find patients riding these horses.

Branham says, “It’s all ground based and about having an equine specialist to interpret what the horses are doing and alongside safety. Then you have the mental health specialist to interpret the emotions.”

“There’s a lot more power in being on the ground with the horses, because you’re on their level and you have to do the work and be humble in it,” says Warner.

After her first equine therapy session, Warner can see the benefits.

“It is pretty powerful. Within a few sessions I think I could see how it would be really healing for people who have struggled with a lot of anxiety and depression, find that peace and healing within themselves,” says Warner.

The equine therapy program at The Rockin’ RC Ranch is offered for a wide variety of people and conditions, in both single and group therapy sessions. Visit or call 785-633-0388 for more information.

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