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Bedtime Stories from the Barn


By Nancy Brannon, Ph.D.

Do you read bedtime stories to your children? This nightly ritual, starting from early childhood, inculcates a love of reading books, along with the enjoyment of hearing stories read aloud. Beverly A. Stubblefield, Ph.D., has put together a book of all kinds of horse stories for children ages six to twelve: Bedtime Stories from the Barn. You’ll hear directly from the horses at the Equestrian Therapy Center, as they talk with each other about their day, the people they’ve helped, the challenges they’ve confronted, and the fun they’ve had. These stories are based on the author’s actual experiences with equine assisted psychotherapy, and are designed to teach coping strategies, to provide insights into emotions, and to promote sweet dreams for horse-loving children. Each story includes a Bible verse.

The book begins with an introduction about “Aunt Bev,” a psychologist, who with her husband “Uncle Bert” have founded the Equestrian Therapy Center. The idea began after hurricane Katrina destroyed Aunt Bev’s community and the surrounding countryside. They saw a need to help the boys and girls who had lost so much from the hurricane, so the therapy center is a safe place away from the destruction and loss in their lives, and a place to talk with Aunt Bev and the horses to learn how to overcome their fears and sadness.

There are stories about Clyde and Mongo, horses that Aunt Bev and Uncle Burt rescued because their owner had become sick an unable to take care of them.

What do the horses wear at night when it’s a cold 27°F outside? Why, of course Aunt Bev and Uncle Burt blanket the horses and give them extra hay, shavings, and water.

Then there’s Wilbur, the neighbor’s pet pig who wanders into the barn one night and is mistaken for a wild boar.

One day PJ’s golden palomino mare gave birth to her first foal. Aunt Bev made sure that all went well and, as the new foal stood and nursed for the first time, Aunt Bev began to sing: “All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small, all things wise and wonderful, our Father made them all.”

Kayla was afraid to ride because she had fallen off a week ago and this time the horse she was riding began to buck. Aunt Bev begins an investigation into why the two most gentle, reliable horses in the barn had recently bucked off their riders. That night, the horses talk about what scared them and find reassurance that Aunt Bev would never put them in danger.

Trust is an important part of riding – the rider’s trust in the horse and the horse’s trust in the rider. The story about Ciao, an American Quarter Horse, is about understanding loss and finding someone you can trust.

There are stories of birthday celebrations, about the farrier’s visit, about volunteers at the Equestrian Therapy Center, about a visit from a jockey Mr. Lopez, about a polo match, about how to confront fears, and more.

The final chapter is about Aunt Bev’s and Uncle Burt’s retirement, and the horses’ worry about what will happen to them. But most of them find “fulfilling lives telling bedtime stories to their new barn and pasture mates from life at the Equestrian Therapy Center.”

About the author: Beverly A. Stubblefield received her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Mississippi. She was a clinical psychologist at The Equestrian Therapy Center that she founded in Slidell, Louisiana. She is now retired and resides with her husband Burt in Ecru, Miss.

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