DODD CITY, TX - A Dodd City Therapy Center that uses horses as part of its treatment opened almost 10 years ago with one horse and one student. Today Hannah's Horseshoes of Hope boasts a herd of 10 horses, 25-volunteers, and more than one hundred students. Here's a look at how the horses have helped so many troubled adults and children ride into a better life.
For many of us, the ability to move from point A to point B is often taken for granted. But at Hannah's Horseshoes of Hope, students not only get to feel the independence of horseback riding, they're given a chance to make a friend for life.
"The relationship that gets built with the horse helps with all walks of life," said instructor Raechel Ramsey.
Hannah's offers equine-assisted therapy to children and adults with physical, cognitive and emotional disabilities, and while horseback riding can be a very liberating experience, director Lisbeth Echeandia says the bond developed between horse and rider is just as big a part of the program.
"It's empowering," said Echeandia. "It gives them strength. It gives them confidence. It helps with socialization. So, it really has tremendous benefits all around."
Riding, walking, even grooming. Just interacting with these animals is what Echeandia says is so therapeutic. "It just works. It's one of those therapy's that's such a clear therapy, plus it's a different kind of therapy in that it's also fun."
But not just any horse is cut out for Hanna's. Only the most gentle and mature are qualified to be therapy horses like Geronimo, the center's Shetland pony. His size and docile nature make him perfect for small children.
"His attribute is his size and his kindness and his willingness to accept pretty much anything a rider can do," said Ramsey.
And Hoppy, a quarter horse who's extensive training makes him a breeze to ride.
"He's a great horse," Echeandia said. "He has great mannerisms. He's a sweetheart. He's very easy to work with. He can trot, canter, he can do the whole range of movement so he's a really a very flexible horse and a lot of students can ride him."
Hanna's is a non-profit organization and is funded primarily through grants and private donations. If you would like more information about Hannah's you can log on to their website www.hannahshorseshoesofhope.com