Category Archives: Publications/Media

Direction of Attunement in Equine Therapy, by Claire Dorotik M.A.

Horses have, for some time now, been showing promise as a complementary modality for humans experiencing psychological distress. As the unconscious guarding that is so typical of human interactions is absent from these horse-human relationships, people often develop an affinity and camaraderie with their equine partners. Especially in the case of trauma, the hallmark neurobiological changes, such as increased excitatory neurochemicals, and exaggerated startle response, tend to obfuscate human social dynamics. As these particular individuals often feel outside of the human experience, and even detached from the self, they typically find a kinship with horses that extends beyond a cognitive congruence. Physiological changes register a calming response, and mitigation of some of the trauma effects while in the presence of horses.

Similarly, several studies have indicated that human-animal touch, and the resultant syncing of mind and body responses to be integral in trauma recovery, (Brooks, 2006; Perry, 2006; Van der Kolk, 2003; Yorke, Adams & Coady, 2008). This response has been particularly strong in human-equine interactions, (Bass, Duchowny & Llabre, 2009; Davis, 2009; Schultz, Remick-Barlow & Robbins, 2007).

Continue reading Direction of Attunement in Equine Therapy, by Claire Dorotik M.A.

NO SECRET SO CLOSE excerpt #2, by Claire Dorotik

NO SECRET SO CLOSE is the story of a the most unthinkable betrayal humanly possible — at only 24 years old, Claire Dorotik’s father has been murdered, her mother arrested, and now, in a sinister twist of fate, Claire’s mother points the finger at Claire, accusing her of killing her own father. Battling the feelings of loss, abandonment, terror, and dissociation, and also learning about them, Claire struggles to stay in her master’s program for psychotherapy. However, when Claire’s brothers also betray her and side with her mother, Claire is left all alone to care for the 18 horses she and her mother owned. As the story unfolds, what is revealed is the horses’ amazing capacity for empathy in the face of human trauma, and the almost psychic ability to provide the author with what had been taken from her. Arising from these horrifying circumstances, the most unthinkable heroes — the horses — show Claire that life is still worth living.

Excerpt #2 from NO SECRET SO CLOSE:

When I entered the house, there was no warm smell. Only the faint odor of dog pee. My mother’s dog, Simone, hadn’t taken the news lightly. She was permanently planted on the couch. Her couch. She had done this before. Whenever my mom left her alone, she would retaliate. She’d claim the couch, and adorn it with whatever she wanted. Houseplants, her dog bowl, my mom’s underwear. Alex’s friends had tried to move her. But she snapped at them. Even though she wasn’t particularly a large dog, her bite was intimidating nonetheless. She was my mother’s negotiation. After years of breeding Irish Wolfhounds and discovering that an unmanaged pack of them became aggressive toward the neighbors pets, and even the foals a few times, she thought she should try something different. Simone was a Russian Wolfhound. They are lighter and supposedly more docile. Of course it wasn’t until the last of the Wolfhounds died, five small dogs and one foal with a slashed side later, that my mother thought it might be time for a change. One of those small dogs was mine. My little Rudy, a perfect little white Maltese that I’d got from a rescue. His previous owner had died, and I felt like I had won the lottery. I had always wanted a Maltese, but you never find them at the rescues. If you do, they don’t really look like a Maltese, and the rescues are just trying to pass them off as purebred to get them adopted. I had him only six months. But I should have never brought him home for Christmas with me. Merry Christmas. All I wanted was for my mom to stop the Wolfhounds from killing other dogs, or get rid of them. But my pleas, like many things, fell on deaf ears.

Continue reading NO SECRET SO CLOSE excerpt #2, by Claire Dorotik

NO SECRET SO CLOSE: A True Story of a Father’s Murder, a Mother’s Betrayal, a Family Torn Apart, and the Horses That Turned It All Around, by Claire Dorotik M.A.

NO SECRET SO CLOSE is the story of a the most unthinkable betrayal humanly possible — at only 24 years old, Claire Dorotik’s father has been murdered, her mother arrested, and now, in a sinister twist of fate, Claire’s mother points the finger at Claire, accusing her of killing her own father. Battling the feelings of loss, abandonment, terror, and dissociation, and also learning about them, Claire struggles to stay in her master’s program for psychotherapy. However, when Claire’s brothers also betray her and side with her mother, Claire is left all alone to care for the 18 horses she and her mother owned. As the story unfolds, what is revealed is the horses’ amazing capacity for empathy in the face of human trauma, and the almost psychic ability to provide the author with what had been taken from her. Arising from these horrifying circumstances, the most unthinkable heroes — the horses — show Claire that life is still worth living.

Excerpt from NO SECRET SO CLOSE:

We approached the house in a tense silence. Inadvertently, I glanced at the stalls underneath. I had long since made a habit of averting my eyes from them, focusing instead on the stairs. They were just too eerie. The old wooden stairs creaked as we stepped up them simultaneously, as if, at any moment, they might give way, sending us plummeting down.

Reaching the deck overlooking the riding arena, I gazed out, wishing I could be out there.

“Come on, Claire,” Alex snapped, pulling the sliding glass door open.

Continue reading NO SECRET SO CLOSE: A True Story of a Father’s Murder, a Mother’s Betrayal, a Family Torn Apart, and the Horses That Turned It All Around, by Claire Dorotik M.A.

The Space between a Human and a Horse, by Claire Dorotik M.A.

While there is no debate that something clearly happens when people and horses come together, just what transpires has been described in a multitude of different ways. Some practitioners of equine therapy prefer to characterize the horse as a reflective mirror in which the person can see his/her own behavior carefully mimicked. Still others have alluded to the idea that horses “attune” to the physiological rhythms of people, thereby having a sedative affect on factors such as heart and breath rate. And others, who perhaps are just fond of horses, purport that they respond to people when they are in state of “congruence” and withdraw when they are “incongruent.” Yet for all the intrigue these often elaborate descriptions hold, do they really accurately capture what happens between horses and humans? They are, after all, our descriptions of animal behavior that is not akin to us. And perhaps in attempting to characterize the horse as something that makes sense to us, we have failed to miss the central point that the horse is a herd animal. His very safety depends of maintaining the sanctity of the herd around him, and his behavior, therefore, must make sense from that perspective. To be sure, the only equine behaviors that exist outside of this spectrum are those that we humans have created. Weaving, for one, is a perfect example. Weaving does not exist in a herd because it has no survival basis. It is not until we house a horse in a space that makes sense to us, for a time that we prefer that he begins this repetitious swaying, akin to the self-soothing rocking seen in autistic children.

So when we say that the horse “mirrors” us, we must define this from the basis of a herd animal. That is to ask, what would the survival purpose of mirroring be in a herd? Just how would this behavior preserve the contiguous nature of a herd? Reflecting another, after all, fails to send a direct message. And further, if all horses reflected one another, how would order be upheld?

Continue reading The Space between a Human and a Horse, by Claire Dorotik M.A.

Gigi Stetler Signs with BookMasters Distribution Company

UNSTOPPABLE! by Gigi Stetler is now available through BookMasters. Photo Courtesy of the Client.

Wellington, FL – January 4, 2011 – Gigi Stetler is pleased to announce that she recently signed a deal with BookMasters Distribution Company for her titles “UNSTOPPABLE! Surviving Is Just the Beginning” and “Never Underestimate the Strength of a Woman.” Thanks to BookMasters, these inspiring titles will first be available through wholesalers such as Ingram Book Company.  Marketing materials will eventually be taken to corporate buyers for the main book selling chains such as Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million.

“I am very excited about the new partnership with BookMasters because they really focus on quality, distribution, getting the book to the right place, and marketing the book to the right people,” commented Stetler. “My book sits in about twelve categories on their website, from self-help to inspirational.”

“UNSTOPPABLE!” is a searing memoir detailing Stetler’s challenging life full of upheavals and emotions. This startling nonfiction expose covers a chilling array of crimes and retribution, from neglect and poverty to violence and victims’ rights. “UNSTOPPABLE!” makes the case for happy endings even under the most violent and disturbing scenarios. Most amazing is Stetler’s refusal to give up, making her a rare happy ending despite a series of challenges that would have stopped most people in their tracks. Regardless of what attacks or assaults you have faced, are facing or will face, and regardless of who directs those attacks at you, yourself, your parents, friends, colleagues, professors, lovers, teachers, competition, your own children, your own past, your own present or your own future: This book is an invitation to make your own, personal commitment to Not Only Survive, But to Thrive!

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Do Horses Really Mirror People?

Claire Dorotik M.A.

In the world of equine facilitated psychotherapy, the fascination of working with an extremely large and often frightening animal, especially in a way that offers insight, and possibly healing, has held an exclusive allure for those who have come to know of this powerful therapy. Not unlike the almost magnetic draw that a great racehorse can bring to even those not familiar with horses, the art of healing through horses offers an often imperceptible gift, housed in a mysterious package. And while people lucky enough to have experienced the strange feeling of wellness, calm, and centeredness that a horse can bring have struggled for words to describe this feeling, practitioners of equine therapy have put many labels on just what it is horses can do for people. Certainly these terms have allowed some insight for people for whom horses are foreign; however, they have also struggled to accurately describe just what happens between a human and a horse. Possibly the most rudimentary of these descriptions of horse healing is that horses actually mirror people. Almost a given in the world of equine facilitated psychotherapy, the concept that horses mirror people has become so popular that it is now quite difficult to find any description of horse healing that doesn’t include this term. Yet, is there any documented research behind this idea? And if not, where did the idea really generate?

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Happy Horse Had a Baby!… And It’s Called Happy Horse Solutions

Have you ever thought that your horse is being uncooperative if he picks up the wrong lead, comes above the bit in transitions, or ignores your leg?

Often the problem isn’t disobedience on your horse’s part. Sometimes your horse seems unwilling simply because your aids are jumbled, confusing, or unclear.

Because the aids are unclear, he has to try to figure out what you really want. And if he chooses the wrong thing, it’s natural to think he’s being uncooperative or disobedient.

Plus it can get very confusing when you hear a lot of different things from different trainers. And if YOU’RE confused, you can be sure your horse is confused.

Continue reading Happy Horse Had a Baby!… And It’s Called Happy Horse Solutions

After the Finish Line and JOCK Documentary Calendar Fundraiser

After the Finish Line is pleased to announce the soon to be released JOCK limited edition 2011 collector’s calendars. JOCK, www.jockmovie.com, is a feature length documentary about the first generation of female jockeys. In the late ‘60s and early ‘70s these women fought for the right to ride professionally.

JOCK will make a donation to After the Finish Line for every calendar sold when you add AfterTheFinishLine in the Source Code at check out.

Not only will you get a great calendar, but you will be helping the rescued Thoroughbred horses that can no longer race or breed. Visit and join After the Finish Line’s Facebook FAN page to learn more: http://www.facebook.com/pages/After-the-Finish-Line/113665201978354?ref=ts.

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A Celebration of Walt Disney Pictures’ ‘Secretariat,’ Presented by the International Equestrian Festival and Horze

The party you don’t want to miss!

Sunday, October 3
1:30 p.m. – Triple Crown winning jockeys Ron Turcotte, Jean Cruguet and Steve Cauthen will share with festival goers reflections on their celebrated careers.

4-5 See Academy Award nominated actress Diane Lane!

** “A Celebration of Walt Disney Pictures’ ‘Secretariat,’ presented by the International Equestrian Festival and Horze” **
Sunday, October 3
Lexington Center, Ground Floor
Two lucky winners will receive two tickets each to the “Secretariat” special screening and reception at 6 p.m.
Stop by the International Equestrian Festival’s Hospitality Atrium. (Lexington Center, Ground Floor) between 1 p.m. 9 p.m. to enter to win.
Entries will be accepted in person until 1 p.m. ET on Sunday, October 3.
No purchase necessary to enter to win.
Hospitality Atrium does not require Festival admission ticket.

Festivities open to the general public include:

  • Pre-Red Carpet Walk of Fame by “Secretariat” film stars
  • Celebration party with appearance by the film’s stars
  • Movie clips, footage of Secretariat’s legendary races and chance to win “Secretariat” merchandise

Horse Capital Productions, LLC 2605 Fireside Circle Lexington, KY 40513-1467

Stable Scoop Episode 111 by Omega Alpha – Dressage Rider and the Jockey

Guest Co-Host Chrissy Joy brings back two of our favorite guests, Dressage Rider Reese Koffler-Stanfield and Jockey Frankie Lavato. Learn whether Reese’s marriage survived the building of a new barn and Frankie fills us in on a new DVD he has called “What It Takes to Be a Jockey”. Listen in.

Stable Scoop Episode 111 – Show Notes and Links:

  • Guest: The mighty Frankie Lavato of racing and Equicizer fame. Always a fun chat – thanks Frankie. Buy Frankie’s new DVD called “What It Takes to Be a
    Jockey”
    .
  • Pic Below: Glenn the Geek on the Equicizer. He had handlers – no one trusted him to ride by himself.

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