Move Over Dogs, These Therapy Horses are Making a Difference in NoCo
I'm sure you've heard of therapy dogs...but there's therapy horses, too.
One of the places these special animals can be found is at Hearts and Horses, a non-profit therapeutic riding facility in Loveland (163 N CR 29).
Founded by a group of volunteers in 1997, the organization helps those suffering from physical or mental disabilities, including veterans.
"They [our clients] learn horsemanship skills and social and emotional learning skills," said Kathryn Yuma, the Development & Communications Manager at Hearts and Horses. "...[these skills] help add tools to their toolkit that maybe if they have a trigger that leads to a negative behavior...they may have a better response to the negative triggers."
According to Yuma, the horse's gait closely resembles a human's, making them an ideal animal for those with mobility issues.
Behaviorally, horses tend to mirror the feelings of their rider, allowing for an amount of empathy that isn't always found in other animals.
Horses also have a hyper-vigilant attitude and a sturdy stance, which can help veterans suffering from PTSD feel more at ease.
On top of therapeutic riding, Hearts and Horses also focuses on physical and occupational therapy, with hopes to include speech therapy in the future.
Each form of therapy has impacted Yuma as she's watched clients learn and grow.
"The smile that appears on their face [when they get on a horse] is just incredible," said Yuma. "From age four to 99, the smiles speak for themselves. It brings pure joy to their face."
To learn more about Hearts and Horses, listen to the full "Tuned In to NoCo" interview with Kathryn Yuma below.