WindWalkers Equine Assisted Learning and Therapy Center
Dancing with Horses is WindWalkers’ staged production taking place at The Wheeler Opera House on September 22nd. There will be three choreographed dance pieces revealing the dance that occurs between horse and rider using local dancers and the families and children at WindWalkers.
WindWalkers is an organization with a mission to provide a variety of equine assisted therapies to aid in the development and growth of children and adults with challenges, be they physical, neurological, emotional, behavioral or psychological. The production personifies the interactions between the students and the horses and captures how the natural movement, motion and gait of the horse helps to heal.
This production is taking the place of an event that was scheduled back in July with Aspen Valley Polo Club. The event had to be pulled due to WindWalkers being evacuated and poor air quality when they returned back to their home in Missouri Heights. Also it offered the AVPC a Sunday match to raise funds for the Carbondale fire fighters as they fought the Lake Christine Fire. This production will help to replace financial losses due to the fires, raise funds for programs, and feed horses – the healers – as hay prices also continue to rise due to the drought. During the time period that smoke filled the air, not only did WindWalkers need to evacuate but they often had to cancel lessons or shut down for an entire day. Many riders and campers experiencing higher anxiety and compromised airways due to their physical challenges were unable to attend lessons or camp sessions. Unfortunately, it wasn’t just the riders who suffered from poor air quality, but the horses also suffered from respiratory issues, tearing eyes and nasal congestion, and therefore could not perform the daily work. WindWalkers did conduct a voluntary evacuation so they could keep the animals safe, and ensure clear roads for Lake Christine Fire emergency vehicles. Jeff Groom of Snowmass Outfitters and Taylor Van Zyl of Avalanche Outfitters helped to evacuate the 13 horses, plus dogs, cats and goats.
Dancing with Horses
The first piece of Dancing with Horses, “Equus-Hominum”, will be performed by Dance Initiative. Choreography is by Shannon Jones who will also be dancing in the piece with three other local young dancers and a two dimensional horse. The other dancers include: Julia Morton, Jenna Pearce and Gabrielle Alvarez Espinoza.
The second piece, “Kids and Family”, is choreographed by Laura Bahr, a mother and a dancer. The dancers will be family members, WindWalker’s staff, Junior volunteers from WindWalkers, WindWalker students ranging in age from 6-28, and Mountain Valley developmental adults.
The third piece is with a blind pianist and Mac Bailey, a music therapist who works with Challenge Aspen. Bailey has played with the big name bands Big Head Todd and Radiohead.
At WindWalkers many riders have an infliction with their own bodies, the natural movement of the horse offers them freedom. The riding increases core strength and Oxytosin releases when students are touching the horses.
Gabrielle Greeves, Executive Director of WindWalkers, is a recognized veteran in the field of non-profits who brings 20+ years of experience in youth development, fundraising, administration, marketing and finance to WindWalkers. She offers a strong track record in consulting on a variety of issues. Greeves is a former principal on the MAN UP Campaign that created a strong platform for eradicating violence against women and giving voice to the voiceless in 24 countries. She supports the daily administration, grant writing, fundraising events, public relations and is a certified EAGALA Equine Specialist.
Greeves taught in rehabilitative sports at Achilles Track Club, volunteered for Challenge Aspen over 20 years ago, and even taught special needs clients while instructing for Aspen Skiing Company. She came to WindWalkers as a volunteer six years ago and never left.
VIP tickets start one hour early at 5:30pm. There will be a bar lounge with hor d’oeuvres from Cache Cache and signature cocktails from Woody Creek Distillers (all donated).