TURNER, Ore. (KOIN) — There’s a special place in Turner with 38 acres of farmland, trails and horses that offers people with various disabilities a spot to get better physically, emotionally and mentally.
Monica Dodge with Horses of Hope Oregon told KOIN 6 News most participants come for 30 minute lessons with the horses. But after just a few of those sessions they can see big results.
“Horses are very intuitive,” Dodge said. “Research has shown their heartbeat connects with our heartbeats. That helps with emotional regulation, regulation of your systems.”
Sarah, who is one of about 100 participants who come to Horses of Hope Oregon weekly, works on her core strength, balance, flexibility and sensory issues.
“Since coming to Horses of Hope I’ve noticed my balance is getting a lot better and I’ve had a lot more core strength and the ability to move,” Sarah said. “And I noticed my hips are a lot looser, as well.”
Her dad said, “A few months into it, she was starting to not use her walker. It was amazing. It was the one thing we saw the most improvement on in the shortest amount of time.”
Veterans and preschool kids also come to work with the horses. During everyone’s first session, they’re on a mini-horse with people walking alongside to protect the rider.
“We kind of assess by visually looking at them, talking to them, what their weaknesses and strengths might be, and then we develop a plan, what their goals are and what opportunities are to reach here,” said Val with Horses of Hope Oregon.
Those opportunities aren’t often found in traditional therapy.
Horses are emotionally intelligent animals with no judgement — and they make real connections with the riders.
“It’s really special what happens here,” Dodge said. “The magic of the horse is amazing.”