Hearts & Horses in Loveland, Colo., is searching for a large-breed horse for their programs | TheFencePost.com

Hearts & Horses in Loveland, Colo., is searching for a large-breed horse for their programs

Many veteran and youth participants are unable to take part in mounted activities due to weight limits of the current herd

-Hearts and Horses Therapeutic Riding Canter

LOVELAND, Colo. — Hearts & Horses Therapeutic Riding Center works hard to promote and improve the quality of life for all of their participants. This can include physical well being through physical and occupational therapies, as well as helping participants overcome and cope with trauma.

Many of the veterans and at-risk youth who are the most impacted by the effects of trauma are currently unable to participate in mounted activities as the majority of the herd members are too small to carry individuals weighing more than 170 pounds. This presents a large challenge for the programs and is presenting a barrier of care. Despite efforts to solicit a donation of a large horse, they have been unable to recruit the right fit for the program and are now looking to purchase a horse that fits the bill.

Hearts & Horses is looking for a stocky, large-breed horse (or three) to purchase, or be donated or leased, to serve in their veterans and youth-at-risk programs. The ideal candidate loves people, has a calm and steady temperament, is 15.2-16.3 hands tall, 1,100-1,400 pounds, is sound, well-trained, and between 8 and 16 years of age. If you have a possible candidate that may suit their needs, or know of anyone who may be able to assist in their search, please visit http://www.heartsandhorses.org/our-herd for more information. Or you email Lisa Rakow, director of equine services, at Lisa@HeartsAndHorses.org or by phone at (970) 663-4200.


Hearts & Horses for Heroes and the Changing Leads programs are eight-week programs focused on equine facilitated therapeutic horsemanship that targets a wide range of disabilities and issues such as PTSD. With a desire to facilitate mind-body healing and to foster mental well-being for veterans and youth, these programs have grown dramatically and serve a wide cross-section of the veteran community and at-risk youth in Northern Colorado. Participation in this program is free for veterans and scholarships are available for the youths. Hearts & Horses works hard to fundraise to provide tuition for veterans who have already given so much and to never be in a position to turn a rider away due to inability to pay.

Both programs are run by instructors with extensive trauma-informed care training, with the help of our empathetic volunteers and exquisitely trained horses. Youth and veterans are paired with an equine for the entire semester, as a partner with whom they can develop trust, and form a deep connection, while working through issues such as trauma, depression, anger management, substance abuse, domestic violence, attachment disorders, grief, and loss. By moving through the Hearts & Horses developed curriculum of mounted activities and groundwork, the participants gain confidence, self-awareness, and self-management skills that are critical to the development of their social, emotional, behavioral and mental health. Equines often act as a reflection of their riders’ emotions, helping participants look inwards and focus on themselves while in a low-stress, low-pressure environment. Equine assisted learning significantly impacts participants by changing their behavior and outlook on life and relationships. These interventions can change the trajectory of the lives of our participants in a way that other interventions have not.

Many veterans shun traditional talk therapy to avoid re-traumatization, and oftentimes pharmacological solutions are not only ineffective, but cause serious side effects. Additionally, the need for behavioral health services has outpaced capacity on a community level, meaning that those in need of help, are not necessarily able to access these services. While these statistics are sobering, emerging research demonstrates that equine-assisted intervention programs can have a dramatic healing effect for veterans and youth.


One story that highlights these outcomes of personal growth and relationship building is from one of our Navy veterans. Scott, a program participant of Hearts & Horses for Heroes, shared that our program is his “safe place,” and a place that gives him purpose. Scott said that before he became a part of Hearts & Horses for Heroes, he had no purpose and most days felt hopeless and lonely. To hear from Scott first hand, please follow this link to a short video: https://youtu.be/pEuaaGY4Kw4.

Hearts & Horses’ mission is to promote the physical, cognitive and emotional well being of people with special needs through equine assisted services. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and BBB accredited charity, we rely on community support to provide our life-changing programs for children and adults with special needs, youth-at-risk, seniors with memory loss and veterans.

Located in Loveland, Colo., Hearts & Horses began in 1997 to address a community gap in services for individuals with special needs. Starting with a handful of riders and one horse; we currently serve 160 riders weekly, own a 23-acre ranch, house 26 equine partners, and have one of Larimer County’s largest volunteer programs. To learn more about Hearts & Horses, please visit our website http://www.HeartsandHorses.org.


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