Hope Horses, Inc. provides equine therapy programs. / Nick Griffin
CULLMAN – Hope Horses for Heroes got underway Tuesday afternoon and will take place every Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. until Aug. 15. The therapeutic program, a joint effort between Hope Horses, Inc. and Saving Forgotten Warriors, was founded to advocate for the mental health of local U.S. veterans who need help.
Hope Horses provides equine therapy programs for children and adults with special physical, mental, social and emotional needs. Now, with the help of Saving Forgotten Warriors, they are using those techniques to aid veterans as well.
The executive director for Hope Horses, Kelsey Rice, sees a lot of value in the work they do and is excited to get veterans involved in the program.
“We started the veterans’ program in February as a pilot program to see if there was a need in the community for that and we found that it was so we partnered up with Saving Forgotten Warriors. This summer our goal is to have four veterans and today is the first day so we’re excited to get that started.”
The program isn’t just about learning to ride horses; it’s more about the healing process of taking care of and getting to know a horse, along with the other tasks that come with maintaining a barn with six horses.
“It’s not just a riding program; everyone gets to learn everything from working in the barn, to grooming horses, to riding, to basic chores,” Rice said. “Typically our veterans will come in on the first day and get introduced to the area and just see what Hope Horses is all about. We want everyone that comes in to feel welcomed.”
Hope Horses has a plan in place for how they want to serve veterans by both educating them on what Hope Horses does and showing them affection through the horses and volunteers.
“Our goal during the veterans’ program is to really work on our equine facilitated learning in order to build self confidence, social skills and really learning a lot about communication and tailoring all of that with the horses.” Rice said. “A horse has a personality so you’re working with that too and we’re learning how our personalities can connect with them.”
Hope Horses for Heroes will take place every Tuesday night through until Aug. 15. Hope Horses is located at 1301 Convent Road NE in Cullman.
For more information, visit http://qrne.ws/hhfh or www.facebook.com/hopehorsesinc
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