“My mom has been a horse woman for a lot of her life. I’ve loved just being around the horses since I was little because they are so present. It was eighth grade when Connected Horse first reached out to start the program at our barn. I’ve pretty much volunteered with them since they first started. My horse that works with Connected Horse is a really big bay horse, 16.3 hands. I think the participants get kind of anxious from having to work with such a big horse. But quickly they become comfortable because he is very sweet. He’s kind of like a big dog. He’s super gentle and careful.
I first introduced my horse Tino to the program when Tammy, who is a participant, first started. I remember she was hesitant about reaching out, helping him, walking with him, grooming him. And so was he. He wasn’t so sure he should trust her. And that changed from the first session to the third session. By the third session he totally trusted Tammy. She led him with her husband and her granddaughter. That was such a beautiful moment. When she stopped, he would stop, he’d nudge her to make sure she was ok. I could just tell that he cared about her in that moment, and he could tell he was doing something that made him happy and her happy.
I love the mindfulness aspect. Volunteering helps me as well. The sensory walk where you think about what’s surrounding you and not what you are feeling and thinking but what you are noticing in your environment is really helpful to ground me when I’m showing at a show.
Across the board what I’ve noticed is that people get really touched and really emotional when they see that the horse can trust them. When they let the horse loose in the round pen and the participants go in with them, Tino will come up to them and let them pet him. It just makes them so happy.”