Many of us can attest to the fact that horses just simply make our lives better. The connection, the care, the centering component of going for a ride keeps us loving these beautiful animals. Now exchange places with someone with physical, mental or emotional disabilities and imagine the impact horseback riding or connecting with our sensitive, powerful and beautiful favorites have . . .
Yes, the sensitive and accepting yet vulnerable and powerful nature of a horse can be used to provide healing and enrichment for humans from all walks of life.
There are two ways where purposed horse interaction can make human lives better:
- Therapeutic Riding – the physical and mental benefit of riding a horse
- Equine Therapy – using horses to teach life-changing principals and provide emotional healing
Here in SLO County there are several places where miracles take place every time a human interacts with an equine.
Therapeutic Riding Programs
North County: P.E.T. – V.E.T. – Partners in Equestrian Therapy (P.E.T) and Veterans in Equestrian Therapy (V.E.T.) located in Atascadero, California. Both are unique riding programs targeting kids, as well as adults, with special needs to improve their cognitive, physical and psychological abilities. Catch their stories here:
- Get introduced to this unique riding program targeting kids as well as adults with special needs to improve their cognitive, physical and psychological abilities. Meet Melanie Williams-Mahan the P.E.T. and V.E.T. Program Coordinator and Board Chairman.
- Come ride along with Partners in Equestrian Therapy. Lives are being changed as children and adults connect with the therapy horses and experience real healing. There is a place for you to come along for the ride too. Come see what’s happening at P.E.T.
South County: Little Riders – Lisa Ankenbrandt and a team of volunteers provide kids with disabilities and life difficulties a place to learn to ride at the Wagner Ranch in Arroyo Grande, California. Read up on the Little Riders program here:
- Lisa Ankenbrandt is not only the Director of Little Riders, but is also the one teacher. She started with two cancer patients in January of 2014, who wanted to learn to ride.
- Andrea, a volunteer at Little Riders Therapeutic Riding Program, finds her work there very rewarding as it inspires her to share the joy of horses with these kids who really need it.
- Sharon Jantzen shares her own story of volunteering in the Little Riders Therapeutic Riding Program
Equine Assisted Therapy
North County: Equine Alliance Youth Foundation – restores children, teens and horses together where they learn from each other. Located in San Miguel and recently relocated in Kern County. Lori Harmon continues her work with at-risk children and teens by teaming them up with at-risk horses. Learn more about this wonderful program through these stories:
- Experience the healing power of horses at the Equine Alliance Youth Foundation. Capture the vision of founder, Lori Harmon as she introduces us to her program.
- Sharon Jantzen shares her experience at the Equine Alliance Youth Foundation Open House and their showcase of work healing horses and kids.
- Equine Assisted Learning teaches teens how to connect and develop trust. Beautiful things are happening here in Paso Robles and San Miguel through Equine Alliance Youth Foundation. Lori Harmon shares her latest vision for healing troubled teens.
South County: Equine Therapy Services – Tracy Owen who runs a mobile Equine Therapy Program serving the senior population of our community, relates the touching stories of her senior clients.
- It’s really quite remarkable the impact that therapy animals can have on the brain, recognition, memory and mood. The simple act of spending time with an animal can bring peace and focus to a mind that has been ravaged by disease. Tracy Owen brings her therapy horse to Senior Citizens in our community.
Great things are happening in our beautiful SLO horse community where horses are making a difference in human lives. Consider your role in being a part of all the miracles happening each day in all these wonderful programs. Let us know of programs in your neck of SLO County.