Triskele Rivers Encourages Slow, Mindful Living
By Drew Myron
Carrie Fuentes and Ann Hansen have a simple mission: helping others discover the joy of missing out.
“We’re helping to navigate slowing down,” Carrie says. “We want to create a safe place for people to come and destress and decompress.”
At Triskele Rivers, a serene 35-acre farm, time slows and healing takes place gently in ordinary moments that can have profound and lasting impacts on children and teens.
Located near Pine Grove just off Highway 35, the idyllic farm with a stately red barn is home to 3 rescue horses, 7 goats, 3 rabbits, 3 once-feral cats and a friendly bull.
On a property offering views of both Mount Hood and Mount Adams, the goats skip and tumble in play. The horses wander freely without stalls to confine. A family of cats sidles through an open barn while a bunny waits for a cuddle.
“Here, it’s all about joy of missing out. Instead of FOMO, JOMO,” says Ann, referencing the shorthand term for “fear of missing out” that indicates the frenetic desire to do and be more.
“It’s really about kids finding their inner selves,” she says.
Through therapeutic mentoring, Carrie and Ann offer an alternative to chaos. Farm sessions are self-directed and typically include walks with goats, relaxing with rabbits, breathing with horses and exploring the property.
These activities provide young people with the autonomy and trust they need to reflect and process their emotions, Ann explains. They become emotionally empowered and more confident.
“It’s about choice here, with the animals and the children,” she says. “It’s really showing kids that they have agency.”
Rates for an individual 1-hour session start at $100. Group visits, family gatherings and special events are also available.
Spending time with animals is known to lower blood pressure, calm the nervous system and release stress, Carrie notes.
“Our work is geared toward slower living, preserving childhood and cultivating compassion toward animals and each other,” she says.
Carrie holds a master’s in counseling psychology from Lewis & Clark College, with post-graduate work in equineassisted learning from Prescott College. She has decades of experience working with troubled youth, struggling parents and those experiencing grief. She is a mother to 2 children, ages 20 and 22.
Ann has a master’s in early childhood special education and is a certified yoga therapist. She worked many years as a teacher, parenting coach and child development specialist, honing her skills in mind/body integration. She has two children, ages 20 and 21.
The women met as young mothers searching for alternatives to public school education for their children. They’ve been good friends ever since and became business partners with the opening of Triskele Rivers in 2020.
The farm is named after the ancient symbol known as the “spiral of life.” The 3 branches of the triskele represent balance, harmony and movement.
Triskele Rivers is not a horse therapy program. In addition to animalassisted learning, Carrie and Ann offer care farming. Care farming combines caring for animals and people in a way that provides healing and wellness by integrating presence, mindfulness and collaboration.
As a certified yoga therapist, Ann emphasizes the benefits of combining mindful observation with body awareness and breathing practices.
“It can change a child’s brain circuitry in a way that builds self-control and positive self-esteem,” she says.
Raised in California’s Topanga Canyon, Carrie grew up riding horses. She no longer believes in using an animal in that way. When renovating the property in 2019, the first thing she did was tear out the barn stalls.
“The horses can come and go as they please,” she says. “They’re not locked in a box. We meet them where they are each day and see how they choose to interact. It’s not what we do to them, but with them.”
This approach, Carrie says, is natural and intuitive. “Slowing down and turning our senses inward allows us to develop curiosity, clarity and self-awareness,” she says.
Triskele Rivers holds a certain sort of magic for those who have found meaningful connection.
“It’s a really special and unique place,” says Heather Nielsen Horacek, a licensed professional counselor in Hood River.
“Transformative is not too big of a word.”
Heather frequently visits the farm with her teenage daughters.
“When the girls come back from the farm they are more grounded, calm and have greater body awareness,” she says. “I love the cats, and my daughter really connected with Chance, the lead horse.
“Carrie is so gifted. It’s not animal therapy, but there’s definitely something therapeutic. The farm really gives people an opportunity to slow down and connect on a deeper level.”
Visit the Triskele Rivers website to learn more.