A Second-Chance for Horses

Dream Catcher’s Horse Therapy and Rescue Saves Unwanted Horses and Uses Them for Therapy

A Second-Chance for Horses

By Shirley Kelly, Colorado

The Horse Sanctuary Mission offers horses a second chance to be cared for, nurtured, and valued, and to provide shelter and humane treatment to horses that have been abused and neglected.

Horse owners have difficulty knowing what to do with their horses when they get too old to ride, too expensive to feed and no longer wanted. Many of these horses can make wonderful therapy horses, but the need for therapy horses is not endless, so Dream Catcher has expanded their facilities to care for these “throw away” horses with a loving, healthy retirement home where they are given the opportunity to have a new job.

As far back as the 1600s, the physical and emotional benefits of equine assisted therapy has been recognized as beneficial.

Since 2006, they have been saving horses, and the ones that are unable to be used for therapy rehabilitation are adopted out to people who have as much compassion for them as the sanctuary. The horses that have been injured or are too old are kept in the sanctuary until they pass away. The most powerful thing that has been witnessed is how the therapy clients heal and feel while nurturing and caring for the animals that have been relinquished, abused, starved or neglected; whilst helping their own hearts heal.

Dr. Jim Grady, field veterinarian for the Department of Agriculture, said he appreciates the new sanctuary in Olathe, Colorado. He said the state is there to support by helping investigate reported cruelty and impounds animals that have been abused or neglected. He stated that we need the public to be aware. We can’t teach people to be compassionate, but we can help the horses.

The programs and services at the Dream Catcher are Hippo-therapy, a type of therapeutic horseback riding. Hippo-therapy literally means physical, occupational and speech therapy using the horse as a tool to address impairments, functional limitations, cognitive delays and disabilities with muscular dysfunction.

As far back as the 1600s, the physical and emotional benefits of equine-assisted therapy has been recognized as beneficial. The motion of a horse stimulates and tones the muscles, while the relationship with the animal promotes a sense of empowerment and happiness in the rider.

Mental health treatment is a form of Equine Assisted Psychotherapy. The program has expanded to Health and Human Services with child welfare. This incorporates horses and patients in a safe environment that helps emotional growth and learning. This has included the meth task force both in Montrose and Delta County, Colorado, spanning 4,000 miles by helping children get off drugs. This therapy helps kids get through the struggles of abuse, drugs, neglect or trouble with the law. Dream Catcher programs are going to be partnering with the Veterans Center to help veterans with PTSD, depression, and re-adjustment to civilian life.

The clients learn by participating in activities using the horse, processing feelings, behaviors, and patterns that result from that particular exercise. The setting is much less threatening and intimidating than that of a therapist’s office, especially for adolescents, who tend to respond better in a more natural situation. By adding the element of horses and their different personalities and sizes to the dynamics, new situations and experiences are being created.

The mission of Dream Catcher Therapy is a program for children and adults who have physical and mental health challenges. They seek to enhance the physical and psychological development through interaction with horses in a unique, clinical setting.

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