A home-state boy made good September 1 when Josh Anderson played his first major league baseball game for the Houston Astros. Josh is the son of Allen Anderson, president and CEO of South Kentucky Rural Electric Cooperative based in Somerset. Kentucky Living profiled Josh in a July 2004 cover story. You can read that feature by going to www.kentuckyliving.com and searching for “Safe at Home” in the article search box.
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Dog may be “man’s best friend,” but horses can also offer emotional benefits to their caretakers as companion pets. Pets have enriched people’s lives on physical, emotional, and social levels. Being social animals themselves, horses can play a unique role in helping us not only to relax but also to teach us useful communication tools that can be applied to other areas of our lives.
The emotional connection between humans and animals has always been supported by anecdotes. Now, research is showing instances of the human-animal bonds that are improving people’s attitudes, assisting in mental health therapies, and are linked to better physical health.
Many people with chronic back pain report that horseback riding provides relief as the movement in their backs created by the horse’s gaits naturally lubricates the joints of the rider’s spine. Those with arthritis benefit from the consistent physical activity of caring for and riding horses that helps alleviate their persistent pain.
Like other sports, horseback riding offers the physical benefits of exercise. But unlike other sports, the added component of dealing with a living, breathing, thinking animal to accomplish your goals also requires added intellectual and emotional work.
Though horses, large and powerful, can be intimidating to some, their size and power also creates an opportunity for people to overcome fears and build their own confidence.
While most people may be familiar with therapeutic riding programs for the handicapped and disabled, the use of horses for mental health is a relatively new field that is rapidly growing in popularity. Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) utilizes horses to encourage the development of communication skills by analyzing body language and encouraging patients to learn new ways of identifying with and expressing their emotions to others.
As herd animals, horses learn what their roles in each social situation are, and develop different attitudes and personalities accordingly. Patients discover that the way they approach one horse may not work with another horse, so they have to adapt and develop different techniques for expressing themselves, just as they have to do in situations with other people.
All pets, including horses, rely on us to provide them with everything they need to survive—food, shelter, care, and companionship. In return, they offer their unconditional love and, often times, unfailing loyalty. These are qualities that we can strive for in all our relationships, not just those with our animals.
Jennifer Donovan is a cofounder of Equestrian Services, a Charlottesville, Virginia, based organization that provides services for equestrian communities. Information can be found at their Web site www.equestrianservicesllc.com.
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Plum Lick medical journal
The View from Plum Lick columnist David Dick has published A Journal for Lalie—Living Through Prostate Cancer. It chronicles his journey through medical treatments with the support of his wife, Lalie, and his dog, Cat. We have inside information that Dick is hard at work on another book, Let There Be Light—A History of Rural Electrification in Kentucky, due to be released in the fall of 2008.
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Albert Goodin, the longest serving ranger in Kentucky with 34 years of service, was one of five rangers to receive a silver medal from ReserveAmerica for his dedication to park visitors and professionalism. Goodin has retired from Levi Jackson State Park at London and previously was based at Cumberland Falls State Resort Park near Corbin.
The Knox County native served in the Army for three years before becoming a ranger. He said his job was more than being a law enforcement officer.
“I love working with the public. I like to talk with and help people,” Goodin said.
Goodin was honored as a district ranger of the year by the Kentucky State Parks for 2005 for outstanding customer service, communication, teamwork, and dependability.
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Chuck Summers has been traveling the state and on November 10 he will release a book of photographs to prove it. Kentucky: Unbridled Spirit and Beauty features 279 color images from the Mississippi River to Breaks Interstate Park.
Summers is a Paducah native now living across the state in Middlesboro. He’s been a pastor at churches in Kentucky and Tennessee before diving into photography. He spent a lot of time taking pictures across the country before deciding to spend some time photographing Kentucky.
He is now working on an inspirational book of photos and scripture, and says he is making plans to become a pastor again.
Kentucky: Unbridled Spirit and Beauty, Summers’ third book, will retail for $39.95, and is available at bookstores as well as from the publisher, Acclaim Press, at (877) 427-2665, www.acclaimpress.com.
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