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Milestones Offers NKY Healthcare Workers a Day of Healing

Cyndi Reusch relished in the comforting quietness as she sat atop Shiloh at Milesones Inc., an equestrian farm in Independence devoted to therapeutic horseback riding. At a socially distant and “horse-safe-distance” she could hear a fellow nurse softly singing to her horse.

“It just made my heart happy to be in that moment,” said Reusch, 53, a registered nurse, with 31 years of experience, currently working in Interventional Radiology at the St. Elizabeth Fort Thomas campus. 

Reusch was a participant in Milestone’s new program, A Day of Healing. The program was developed to support local frontline health care workers during the country’s health care crisis, said Milestone Program Director Rachel Breeden said.

“We reached out to some contacts at St. Elizabeth to see if they would be interested in being our first partner for the program and they were very excited to participate and provide this amazingly powerful self-care program to their staff,” she said

During a 90-minute Day of Healing session, Breenden said Milestone’s emotional support staff, instructors, and therapy horses encourage participants to address issues through equine education, mindfulness techniques, and connection activities that help process the stress and trauma associated with their work and everyday lives. 

“Learning to work with horses helps build skills like communication, trust, stress management and gives them a great feeling of confidence and accomplishment,” Breeden said. “This program is so important because it helps bring the participants joy and a sense of calmness. It helps refresh their spirits and give them alternative ways to cope with all the daily emotional roller coasters these brave frontline workers have to face. Milestones is creating a safe place for them to reflect and start the process of healing for any stress or traumas the participant is struggling with.” 

Reusch said it was wonderful to have a block of time to do “something extraordinary and unique solely for yourself.”

“As caregivers, we tend to be excellent in taking care of others, but not so great at taking care of ourselves,” she said. “This program gave me just that - 90 minutes of a really amazing experience up close and personal with, in my opinion, the most majestic of creatures on this earth, horses. I feel extremely grateful and blessed to have been offered the opportunity to participate in this program.”

The program made such an impact on Reusch she has decided to return to Milestones as a volunteer. 

According to Breeden, the response to A Day of Healing has been so powerful.

"We’ve been told that the program eased anxiety and created a mindful experience. Another participant told us that it helped reboot their inner soul and remind them of what’s important. It just fills you with happiness and pride to be able to offer that to others – those who need and deserve it. We hope other health organizations will consider offering this type of program to their staffs.”

Breeden said the goal is to help as many frontline workers with as many healthcare organizations as possible. St. Elizabeth has contracted 10 sessions and they have other organizations interested in hosting sessions as well.

“This is what we’re all about,” Breeden said. “Milestones is a therapeutic horsemanship program that presents opportunities for individuals with challenges to enhance their quality of life.”

The nonprofit organization strives to assist each rider to become an innovative and productive member of the community by building independence, self-confidence, and social skills in a safe, fun, loving environment. 

“Our programs are structured, yet self-paced based on participant needs and developing skills,” Breeden said.

Milestones was organized and incorporated as a therapeutic horseback riding program in 1999. The program began with five riders and will serve over 300 program participants in 2021.

-Melissa Reinert, RCN contributor

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