Wendy and Scott Armstrong own Flipside Farm, where they board horses, offer riding lessons and pony camps, and provide equine-assisted therapy to patients in need of a different approach to mental health.
Wendy Armstrong earned her equine therapy certification about a year ago, after it was recommended that a family member fighting an eating disorder try the nontraditional treatment.
The Muncy farm has since served about 40 patients, mostly in one-on-one sessions.
"Most of the treatments are unmounted," said Armstrong. "You take a kid that's never been around horses, lay out a series of halters, and tell them to go halter the horse they feel represents them most. Most people try to put it on backwards every time."
Another technique involves moving a horse across the ring using no forms of physical or verbal communication.
"Kids will get frustrated," Armstrong said. "They can't do the things that are easiest, that are most common, the things that are most comfortable."
Flipside Farm also hosts corporate groups.
"One exercise with a group you can do is have three people link arms," Armstrong said. "The middle is the brain, and the end people are the hands - they can't do anything without the brain telling them. It's hard - if they don't know what the parts are called, they're saying 'put the thing around the belly,' stuff like that.
"I did that exercise with a group of girls who know horses and they couldn't believe how hard it was," Armstrong said. "They were saying 'I get how clearly you need to speak,' how clearly you need to be in communication."
"It's such a new field, there's constantly changing new ideas and new tricks of the trade that you have to keep up with," said Armstrong. "I'm considered an equine specialist. When (psychiatrists) get stuck they'll refer a patient to me. It's so new it's hard to get people to refer you, but it's building."
At least one doctor that Flipside Farm works with is planning on getting equine certification and wants to try the therapy with veterans suffering post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Other types of patients include people with eating disorders, learning disorders and victims of trauma and abuse, Armstrong said.
Most of Armstrong's patients have been women so far, with ages ranging from 11 into the 40s, although three men are signed up for the next series.
The series of treatments generally lasts six to eight weeks, with patients participating in weekly sessions that progress from simple to more complicated tasks.
The Armstrongs' two children, Hailey, 10, and Logan, 7, both help out around the farm with the horses and sheep and ride, too.
The family has owned the farm for a decade.
"When we bought it, I was pretty into showing horses then, " Armstrong said. "But the kids came, and now they show and I watch."