Idaho Horse Therapy is a non-profit corporation located in rural Southern Idaho. We use about forty head of horses, from yearlings to saddle-horses, all of which have proven to be very effective clinicians. We feel blessed to do most of our work in our desert setting, where there are few distractions for clients and the focus stays on the horses and what is truly happening. Idaho Horse Therapy utilizes several indoor facilities throughout the Magic Valley where sessions can be conducted in inclement weather. The founders of IHT have over 40 years of experience in equine activities and a major passion for helping others. The combination of the love of horses and the desire to bring the equine experience to others makes for the perfect business. Idaho Horse Therapy is a registered Central Contractor and an EAGALA Military Services Program.
To provide evidence-based Equine Assisted Psychotherapy to any population that can benefit from our services, and, in so doing, effect change in the world at large by increasing the number of emotionally stable, solution-based thinkers who have resources to problem solve when possible and cope graciously when necessary.
Equine Specialist – Johnny U is a certified Level II equine specialist through EAGALA, a model of equine-assisted psychotherapy services which focuses on growth and learning. Throughout his years, as both his spirit and ego have evolved, the only constant in Johnny’s life has been horses. His love of horses helped him connect with his father. It led him to become a professional rodeo cowboy. Johnny learned horsemanship, integrity and the value of a hard day’s work from his father. Father and son became best friends, confiding in one another, never judging, always understanding. After high school in Shoshone, Idaho, Johnny attended Idaho State University on a track scholarship. Following graduation, he became a high school math teacher. But it wasn’t the algebra or geometry that motivated Johnny. “My favorite part of teaching was the counseling,” he says. “Some kids have come back and said, ‘You saved my life because you let me spend time to visit with you.’ That is the best thing.” During his years of teaching, Johnny competed in local rodeos and eventually hit the professional rodeo circuit. In the fall of 1983, Johnny began down a new road and launched a successful music career. For 15 years Johnny U and the Dodge Country Band toured the nation 300 days out of the year. Throughout his music career Johnny recorded 10 albums, his first single, “He’s a Cowboy,” charted in 1984, and he had six top-10 songs in Europe. As country music evolved Johnny U always stayed true to his roots. “I’m very western and very cowboy. That’s who I am. That’s what I do best.” Working in the EAP field has provided a great opportunity for Johnny to combine his love of horses, desire to help youth, and even bridging in things he learned along the way through his music career. Of the work with the horses and youth Johnny facilitates and witnesses, he has this to say, “It is the most wonderful, powerful thing I’ve ever seen.”
Equine Specialist, Marketing Director – Karla is also certified through EAGALA as an Equine Specialist. The daughter of a doctor and a minister, Karla has always been motivated by the desire to help others. She grew up in Southern Idaho and went to university in North Carolina, where she studied English and Psychology. She returned to Idaho in 2011 and has been involved with IHT since 2012. Though relatively new to the world of horses, Karla had the opportunity to be changed herself in her interactions with them, and knew that being a part of bringing that peace to others was the best use of her skills and compassion.
Board of Directors:
President: Mitch Arkoosh
Mitch has served for 18 years on the Gooding School Board, was a Gooding County Commissioner, and is now serving on the Gooding City Council. He has been involved with geothermal, wind, and hydroelectric power projects. Mitch was born in Gooding and has lived there all of his life, except for six years at Notre Dame, where he earned Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Metallugical Engineering. When he returned, he ran a sheep/cattleman outfit; when the foreman quit, his father, George, asked him to stay–which he did, for the next ten years. In the mid-1980’s, Mitch built a small hydroelectric plant on the Little Wood River and his family sold the sheep and cattle because his brothers wanted to work in the potato industry. That wasn’t Mitch’s milieu, so he went to work for Faulkner Land and Livestock as their office manager, with expanded duties on the ranch.
Secretary: Jason Lugo
Though originally from Utah, Jason spent every summer of his teenage years working on his uncles cattle ranch in Fairfield, Idaho. Later in his adult life he spent many summer boating trips to the Snake River. Falling in love with southern Idaho once again Jason moved his family to Declo in February of 2004 and never looked back. Being a graphic artist and photographer, Jason began to discover this beautiful region through his camera lens. With his experience in producing a Utah magazine for a client of his, it didn’t take long for Jason to conceptualize and bring to live Southern Idaho Living Magazine, which he ran for five years. Today, Jason is still active in southern Idaho as a local musician, photographer, graphic artist and renaissance man. He has provided creative services and graphic design for some of Idaho’s biggest companies, including Idaho Horse Therapy’s signature logo.
Treasurer: Diane Davis
Diane received a B.A. degree in Spanish from Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma, WA in 1975. She worked for the Social Security Administration for five and a half years in clerical positions in the Seattle area, and as a service representative in branch offices in Washington, D.C. She has resided in southern Idaho for 28 years, where she and her husband of 35 years raised their three children. During that time she has worked part-time continuously in a medical office in accounts payable, and part-time as office assistant for a Bible Camp. She continues those positions as well as serving as lay leader for her congregation. Diane is currently in the process of earning a Master of Divinity degree to serve her church. She has been involved in numerous volunteer activities (library board, Education Foundation, Cub scouts and Girl Scouts).
Sponsorship Director: Nicole Wayment
Nicole has worked in Law Enforcement for the past 4 years. During this time she has worked closely with law enforcement officers who typically have military backgrounds. Not only has she witnessed the effects of PTSD from her peers, she too has suffered from PTSD. Nicole has been through the Re-Boot Camp® treatment program and it worked so well for her she has joined the IHT team. Nicole is very excited and motivated to help raise the funding needed to help as many veterans as possible.