Happenstance brought Bryne Atkinson and Rocky Mountain Riding Therapy together. Intrigued by a social media post about RMRT’s first responder equine therapy program, the Colorado paramedic inquired to learn more.
At the time, Atkinson was overwhelmed by the unending stress of the COVID-19 pandemic and looking for a place to decompress. She found it at RMRT, with the help of Hinto, a personable Paint gelding. “He is handsome, sensitive, intelligent, stubborn and brave beyond measure,” Atkinson gushes, “and he’s taught me how to be present, persistent and increasingly self-aware.”
After being a part of the non-profit’s first responder program for a few months, Atkinson signed on as an RMRT volunteer. Soon, she found herself supporting many of the non-profit’s programs, from assisting with therapeutic riding lessons, hippotherapy and mindfulness workshops, to helping out with weekend feedings.
“I honestly cannot think of a part of my life that RMRT has not impacted,” she says. “I am not the same person I was when I walked through the barn doors for the first time, and for that I will be forever grateful.”
Atkinson is not alone. The equine therapy center caters to individuals with a variety of physical, cognitive and emotional challenges, providing a wide range of therapy and recreational opportunities aided by its four-legged partners. Currently, RMRT offers six programs spanning therapeutic riding, equine-assisted learning, equine-assisted psychotherapy, equine Gestalt coaching, hippotherapy,
and of course, its first responder program. The central link to each of these offerings: the nonprofit’s stable of nurturing horses.
RMRT instructor Janine credits these intuitive animals for much of the center’s success. “Horses understand us when we don’t understand ourselves,” she explains. “Their presence changes the atmosphere – it’s amazing what horses can do.”
At RMRT, that includes helping participants meet personal goals, providing support through hard times and giving them a sense of peace and safety. Carrie Antoine, who leads RMRT’s marketing effort, sums it up best: “Our mission is to help participants reach their fullest potential.” Thanks to horses like Hinto, that mission is being realized time and time again.