Whispering Manes is an equine-assisted therapy program in Miami, FL. Erin Bower, the executive director at Whispering Manes, describes it as a place where people with a wide range of disabilities are welcome to work with horses, with the hope of encouraging physical, mental, and emotional healing and strengthening. That healing only happens through the work of an amazing staff and connections formed with some incredible horses.
The people who come out to visit have many different struggles. Some of them seek to improve their confidence, others have physical disabilities, or emotional challenges, and equine-assisted therapy has something for every single one of them. Christina DeQuesada, volunteer and special education professional, says that you can see a bit of every type of therapy at Whispering Manes. She compares it to aspects of occupational, physical, and even emotional therapy. Learning to ride a horse can positively touch a number of different elements of anyone’s life.
Robin Bramson, the Head Riding Instructor and Program Director, explained how much riding a horse can improve a person’s communication, both verbally and nonverbally. She says, “A horse gives you immediate feedback and it’s nonjudgmental…horses are herd animals and they have no spoken language so they depend on reading body language of other horses.” She continues, “They depend on reading body language of people for their survival.” Robin says that all of the little things you do on a horse can translate into life skills that can be used out of the saddle — the way you’re talking to other riders and people around you, and the way you’re signaling the horse. All of those things add up to make a very special experience that’s hard to find with any other animal.