“Equine Therapy” Offers Hope to Children in Distress

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Hope Reigns

Hope Reins pairs kids experiencing crisis with trained mentors and rescued horses.

  Due to severe reductions to state-funded mental health services, it’s difficult for families to access the resources they need in order to provide distressed children with the healing they deserve. That’s where non-profit Hope Reins stepped up, providing over 2,500 kids who experienced severe trauma, abuse, or poverty with a safe refuge.

  The organization pairs kids and teens in acute life crises with a trained mentor and horse companion that will provide them with real hope and healing. Participants will experience 90-minute sessions with trained mentors and rescue horses, until they are ready to begin giving back to the farm through the “Kids Give Back” program.

 “Equine therapy” is different from other forms of therapy because horses can create healing bonds that allow the kids to develop a relationship where they won’t feel judged or like they need to meet certain expectations. Animals and humans can develop deep emotional connections with one another, especially when they share a similar story. 

  “[The horses] have special rescue stories that are similar to the stories of the kids we serve– which is a special initial connection point,” shares Schofield, “Horses are incredibly emotionally ‘in tune’ with others– and have a unique ability to reflect and mirror human emotions.”

  One of the horses, Ruka, is a Percheron Cross mare who endured severe neglect prior to her rescue by Hope Reins. Despite her difficult past, Ruka continues to connect to children and adapts her demeanor to fit their emotions.

  “Ruka’s amazing story of overcoming starvation and neglect to the point of being fully restored (physically and emotionally) is a huge source of Hope for kids,” reflects Hilary Schofield, Director of Programs at Hope Reins, “She’s the leader of her herd, so she reminds kids of their potential, regardless of their past!”

  The organization was founded in 2009 by Kim Tschirret, who experienced abuse as a child and found respite and comfort in her horse. “[Kim] wanted to share the Hope of Christ and the connection with horses, with other kids that might be struggling too. She started by building a small team of supporters, adopting a horse, and renting some property,” comments Schofield in regards to the founding story of Hope Reins.

  The ranch continues to expand its outreach every day. Hope Reins volunteer and aspiring author Jennifer Bleakley, published a novel titled “Joey: How a Blind Rescue Horse Helped Others to See”. The book documents the touching story of Joey, a past Appaloosa resident of the ranch that touched the lives and hearts of many people.

  “Animals and humans can develop deep emotional connections with one another and this can be great for recovering,” shares freshman Madison Gould when asked about what “Equine Therapy” means to her.

  The 33-acre ranch features two fishing ponds, a garden, hiking trails, and a log cabin, in addition to the 15 rescued horses. Hope Rein’s community will quickly become a kid’s “second home.”