There’s a lot you can learn on the back of a horse. Just ask J’Von:
“My horse … loves me just like I am. He is stubborn like me, but he teaches me to be calm, not get mad and to be nice. Buddy taught me to keep trying and not give up on him or on people. Because of Buddy, I am able to love and be loved…. Thank you Buddy.”
J’Von’s not alone in his experiences. Since its founding in 2003, The H.O.R.S.E. Center has helped more than 10,000 children and adults overcome personal challenges, develop problem-solving skills, and achieve individual and group goals through its equine-facilitated approach to therapy.
But why use horses? “Horses are non-judgmental,” explains Russell Porter, the center’s chief financial officer and equine specialist. “They allow clients to have a safe space to work on their resilience, finding serenity and empowerment.” (Not coincidentally, those ideas also form the basis of the center’s acronym: Helping Oneself be Resilient, finding Serenity and Empowerment – H.O.R.S.E.)
During the sessions at Midland, Texas, facility, a three-member team consisting of a licensed mental health professional, an equine professional and a therapy horse concentrate on improving a client’s physical, sensory, emotional, cognitive, and/or psychological deficiencies. Russell says the resulting progress yields ripple effects that can permeate throughout a client’s life.
“Animals offer honest feedback, acceptance and compassion,” he adds, recalling the daily acts of understanding and love that the center’s horses show. “Together, we’re helping our clients be the best person they can be.”