Equine Therapy Center recognizes four-legged artists | PostIndependent.com

Equine Therapy Center recognizes four-legged artists

Submitted Report

In a valley noted for its many art galleries and a multitude of talented local artists, there is yet another group of unsung artists who are about to have their day in the sun. The Denver Zoo has its elephants who paint colorful designs on T-shirts, and the Roaring Fork Valley has herds of 4-legged sculptors.

Put a salt block or mineral block (available at your local livestock feed store) in a pasture or a stall and watch a horse (or cow, or even deer and goats) go to work, licking the rock hard block into exotic shapes and forms. It’s Salt Lick Sculpture.

To determine what animal can produce the most artistic work, WindWalkers Equine Assisted Learning and Therapy Center is sponsoring a Salt Lick Sculpture Contest. Ranchers, English-style equestrians, Western cowfolk, and those who like to attract wildlife to their backyards all have an opportunity to enter the contest by placing salt or mineral blocks out in their fields or backyard for a few weeks and then bring the “finished” work to the Roaring Fork Valley Coop in Carbondale by Aug. 31. No entry fee is required.

Exhibitions of entries will appear in a variety of local art galleries, including Valley Fine Arts in Aspen and Main St. Gallery in Carbondale, through late August and September.

Then they will be judged by internationally acclaimed artist, former Texan, and current resident of Missouri Heights James Surls. Surls’ work, known for its organic forms, have been on display in museums throughout the world from the MoMA, Guggenheim to the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Caracas (Venezuela) and the Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam). Soon there will be a museum devoted to Surls in downtown Carbondale in the space vacated by the Gordon Cooper Library.

The top winner will receive local if not national fame, an appropriate plaque and a large bag of treats.

Following the judging all of the entries will be available for purchase with the proceeds going to WindWalkers Equine Therapy Center in Missouri Heights.

WindWalkers, a recognized 501(c)(3) nonprofit, uses horses as a therapeutic medium for children as young as two up through mature adults to cope with a variety of physical, intellectual, behavioral and emotional issues. Instructor Beth Gusik received her certification from the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association in 1996 and became an NARHA Advanced Instructor in 2002.

“We wanted to do something that would acknowledge how special horses are to our clients and our community,” said Margaret (Gary) Bender, WindWalkers executive director. “Horses have the ability to provide not only therapeutic movement but also a therapeutic relationship to those who have challenges.

WindWalkers uses a family centered approach, recognizing that any disability or challenge impacts not only the individual but the entire family.

WindWalkers clients bring a range of challenges to the Missouri Heights ranch, including autism, Down’s syndrome, spina bifada, neurological disabilities, anger management issues and family dysfunctions. WindWalkers often involves family members in the therapy process for the challenged individual.

For more information about WindWalkers or the Salt Lick Contest: windwalkerstrc.org or 970-963-2909.

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