When Jenny Sutherland signed her youngest daughter up for riding lessons, she never imagined where it would lead. But after seeing the change in her daughter, she began a six year journey, which culminated in the founding of Unbridled Hope, an equine-assisted therapy and learning facility.
Jenny still remembers that first lesson: “My tiny, quiet daughter was paired up with a huge horse named Buster. The moment she got on that horse I saw the light come back into her eye and she started to find her confidence.”
Inspired by the transformation in her own child, Jenny became certified in equine-assisted psychotherapy and equine-assisted learning. She and her family purchased a 28-acre ranch and Unbridled Hope was born. In 2018, with the help of her team of 14 horses and a tireless group of volunteers, Jenny helped facilitate over 150 healing sessions, helping children, families and adults scarred by trauma.
True to its name, Unbridled Hope isn’t about riding. Rather, it’s about building relationships. “Nothing we do is forced,” Jenny explains, noting that bridles and harnesses are rarely used. “We don’t physically control our horses; they choose to participate in a session.”
As a result, sessions at Unbridled Hope are really partnerships between the horse and the participant, all supervised by trained facilitators. “Horses have a way of cutting right to the heart of the matter,” Jenny continues. “They’re very intuitive, and have an innate ability to mirror our emotions, ultimately resulting in enhanced self-awareness by our clients.”
In the sessions, horses and clients learn to trust each other and work together, as they complete a series of activities. Along the way, participants gain self-confidence, improve self-control and find hope. “There is no magic formula for how healing happens,” Jenny insists. “Each session is unique because each person and horse is unique. Learning to work together as a team despite our differences and becoming a true partner is what allows our clients to heal.”