Pride of the Pine Belt: Purvis program provides unique therapy - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Pride of the Pine Belt: Purvis program provides unique therapy


A group of animals in Purvis specialize in psychotherapy.

"Our animals are the therapist, and the kids just connect with them. It's a non-threatening connection. They get to feed them and brush them, and see that horse, or that goat, or pig connect with them," said Gina Archer, founder of Purposeful Pony.

Archer considers herself the facilitator, bringing disabled or abused children, and adults here to her home for a counseling session of sorts with these animals.

"Some of our animals actually have been abused. They have been brought from abused situations," said Archer.

But with a lot of TLC from Archer and her husband, these animals now serve a bigger purpose.

"In 2001, that is when Purposeful Pony was started as far as all the paper work and becoming a non-profit,"said Archer.

Here at Archer's Purvis home, she provides special needs individuals with hours of horse back and pony rides, and a petting zoo. Archer says while the kids have a lot of fun some are also receiving physical therapy.

"When you are on a horse that gate is like our walk, and some of these kids and adults don't get that, because they are in a wheelchair. They are bound to that wheelchair, so the walking gate of the horse help strengthen muscles that they would not be able to use," said Archer.

Archer believes there are some children who have difficulty opening up.

"There are children who are non-verbal that will just squeal and light up. The expression on there face is priceless, because they are bonding with that horse. We work with children who are also in abusive situations, and they may not bond with a person because of fear from their past, but an animal cuts right through that fear," said Archer.

Archer says starting a program like Purposeful Pony was inevitable. Her upbringing on a ranch, volunteering with Horses and the Handicapped as a teenager, and earning her degree and certification paved the way to what she calls a dream come true. Now, there is another dream in the works.

"The land behind me, we are wanting to expand. We want to purchase that," said Archer.

Archer says if they raise enough money to purchase the land and the home on the property, they would move out of their own home, and make it a refuge.

"We want to make it a purposeful refuge, and that would be for families who are in a crisis situation, maybe their child is going through chemotherapy. They've been diagnosed with cancer, and they are a cancer survivor," said Archer.

For Archer, this is her next challenge, make her home an escape from the strains of coping with cancer, allow a family to stay a few days, and let the surroundings and unique counselors provide relief.

If you would like to know more about Purposeful Pony, or if you would like to help the organization in any way you can contact them via facebook:!/pages/Purposeful-Pony/186352821414215

Monday Purposeful Pony's website will be updated, you can visit at

Archer can be contacted at 601-744-0393.

Upcoming fundraisers:

November 12: Golf Tournament Classic at Cane Brake subdivision.

There will also be a fundraiser called "Day of Children" at the Forrest County Multi-Purpose Center on November second and third.


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