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Our Story

Connected Horse provides innovative equine-assisted workshops and training that inspire connection and engagement and improve the lives of those affected by dementia and memory loss.

Almost 7 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease, and one in ten adults aged 65 and older live with dementia. Connected Horse counters the hallmark isolation and depression so often experienced by both those living with the disease and their care partners through research-informed equine programs. Program participants report reduced feelings of anxiety and depression, build confidence, and improve relationships. The workshops with the horses help them feel whole again.

social bonds.

Our research-informed programming with horses as teachers improves the lives of people affected by dementia and their care partners together.

Connected Horse helps to strengthen the bonds between participants and their caregivers.


We honor each individual where they are. Our sense of self remains in us throughout life.


We strengthen social bonds through engagement, stress reduction, and nonverbal communication and encourage a growth mindset.


We learn from the horses. They respond to and mirror non-verbal communication and emotions. Through observation and interactions with the horses, who live “in the moment,” participants receive feedback and increase their awareness and connections.


Improving access to social engagement is a core tenant of our program. We have an outreach team to help people get to workshops and to reach those who cannot attend in person with our At-Home programs. We contribute to the growing professional field of therapeutic equine support.

Our Founders

Founders Nancy Schier Anzelmo, MSG, and Paula Hertel, MSW, are lifelong equestrians and experts in aging and elder care. They developed Connected Horse based on their theory that guided interactions with horses could strengthen primary social bonds and activate social engagement for people with dementia and their care partners. In collaboration with researchers at the University of California, Davis School of Medicine, Alzheimer’s Disease Center, School of Veterinary Medicine, and Center for Equine Health and at the Stanford University School of Medicine and Red Barn Leadership Program, they assessed the promise of the workshops. Paula and Nancy continue to innovate and expand the beneficial reach of Connected Horse through Connected Horse At-Home programming and the Training Institute.

Read More About the Research
Connected Horse Co-Founders, Paula Hertel & Nancy Schier Anzelmo

Our History

Stanford Research Project Launch

Completed Stanford Research

Presented Findings at Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC)


UC Davis Research Launch

Incorporated as a Non-Profit

Launched Pilot at Xenophon Therapeutic Riding Center in Orinda, CA

Castro Valley Barn Launch

Barn Launch: Kids n Horses in Minden, NV

First Facilitator Training

Moved to Five Star Equestrian Center in Pleasanton, CA

Three Horse Farms Launch

Sensory Engagement Kit Program Begins

Online Fundraiser: Connections for Hope

Partnership with Mentia: DevaWorld, Digital Barn

Adult Day Center Programs: CollabriaCare and ASEB

Inaugural Live Fundraiser Event, Lassos with Love

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