Jessica Pinto is a Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) and PATH Therapeutic Riding Instructor (TRI) who is consistently inspired by the profound impact animals can make on our sense of self and our way of being in the world if we only allow them. In addition to her private practice in Corte Madera where she specializes in child and adolescent psychotherapy, she partners with her equine co-therapists and the deeply healing effects of the natural world to facilitate growth and learning at Equinicity Marin in Muir Beach.
Jessica has been working in the field of therapeutic horsemanship since 2005 and credits finding her path as a mental health professional to her passion for horses. She quite literally grew up on the backs of horses and has always felt like her most authentic self with animals. Shortly after discovering the field of equine assisted therapy Jessica became certified as a Therapeutic Riding Instructor (TRI) through the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH). She gained experience in the field at DreamPower Horsemanship, a PATH Premier Accredited Center in Gilroy, CA, where she taught therapeutic riding and horsemanship to at-risk children and teens living in foster care and group homes and was deeply inspired by the horses’ natural ability to teach, motivate, and soothe.
In 2006 Jessica had the great privilege of co-founding Trails to Success, a unique therapeutic program in Briones, CA that utilizes animals, art, and nature in multi-sensory, experiential activities designed to improve confidence, leadership, and interpersonal skills in children and teens. As the Director of the Equine Program and one of the primary clinicians at Trails to Success Jessica designed curriculum for and facilitated individual and group equine therapy sessions, experiential education workshops, and therapeutic summer camps.
Meet Lucky Little Bear
Bear is a 16 year old Buckskin Quarter Horse gelding who is a natural teacher with many strong opinions. Although he is only 14 hands tall (about 5 feet), he has a BIG “horsenality” and tends to be a dominant leader in any herd hierarchy he joins. Bear’s confidence, playfulness, and extreme intelligence make him a perfect partner to practice leadership skills such as assertiveness, boundary-setting, and clear communication. In his youth he was trained as a Working Cow Horse, a highly competitive equestrian sport that requires extreme athleticism, precision, focus, and controlled bursts of speed to maneuver cows in specific patterns. Although retired from this discipline for many years Bear maintains a love of “herding” and has been known to chase coyotes out of his pasture. In his free time, Bear loves to play with found objects like balls, umbrellas, cones, and anything he can get his mouth on.
Pico is a Pinto gelding of unknown age and breeding because he was rescued from an uncertain past. His conformation (body type), style of movement, and mannerisms lend suspicion that he is at least part Mustang and he is phenomenally sure-footed, brave, and adventurous as a trail horse. Pico, like all horses, is highly attuned to energy and emotions, but his past experiences cause him to be more cautious and expressive than horses who have always had trusting relationships with humans. Pico’s sensitivity and insecurities make him a perfect partner to increase self-awareness, centeredness, and energy modulation. In his free time he likes to play with his best friend Bear, roll in the dirt then leap and gallop around the pasture in a magnificent expression of playful joy.
Chunk is a 8 year old English Bulldog who has been around horses since he was 10 weeks old so he fancies himself “part of the herd”. Chunk has a huge heart and is extremely sensitive to emotions so he has been known to climb onto furniture to lick the face of someone feeling sad or become as animated as possible to shift feelings of tension and discontent with his heart-warming expressions. Honored by the campers of Trails to Success as the program’s “unofficial official” mascot, Chunk takes his job very seriously and he has an uncanny ability to put a smile on every face.