Murphy Harpst
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Welcome Kaylan Marion, Equine Coordinator


Recently joining the staff at Murphy-Harpst Children’s Centers as Equine Coordinator, Kaylan Marion has already discovered that the children in residential treatment and the horses are a natural fit.  “Some of our kids have never touched a horse, and in a week’s time, they often learn to walk, lead, and ride them,” says Kaylan.  “Like the children, each of the horses has a unique personality with its own history of problems, and it’s amazing how a boy or girl is drawn so quickly to a horse that mirrors themselves.”     

Prior to Murphy-Harpst, Kaylan served as activity therapist leader and was responsible for the horticulture therapy department at Northwest Georgia Regional Hospital in Rome, GA.  Shortly after the State announced the closing of the Hospital, Murphy-Harpst had an opening in equine therapy. “I was raised on a farm in this area and have had horses my entire life.  I had always wanted to do equine assisted therapy.  I have a huge passion for animals and believe in using them to help people who have experienced abuse and need healing,” says Kaylan.  “I really enjoy my work.  I love being with the kids, and am overjoyed when they bond with the horses.”

Since 1984, animal-assisted therapy has been an integral part of Murphy-Harpst’s array of therapeutic services. “The kids can’t wait to be with the horses, and the equine program helps them in becoming more independent,” recalls Kaylan. “They develop responsibility in caring for the horses—from cleaning out the stalls to grooming.  They gather the horses from the pasture.  They even learn the anatomy of the horse.  Working with them individually and in groups, we are seeing progress as the children learn to ride.  They are also encouraged by adult group leaders that have never been around horses and are actually learning to ride along with them.”     

As for Kaylan’s aspirations, “One of my goals is a junior rodeo.  The children could be on teams by cottage.  Each team would be challenged to catch, saddle, lead, and ride the horses.  The final challenge would be an obstacle course.”