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Treasure Coast Essay

Therapy using horses

Humans and horses began to bond more than 4,000 years ago.  That special relationship continues today – even though the horseless carriage has mostly replaced the horse for going from here to there.  Consider the programs of the Florida Equestrian Foundation at Scarlett Stables in Fellsmere in Indian River County.  The foundation provides horse-assisted therapy to children with autism, veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, seniors having difficulty adjusting to their limitations and people of all ages with emotional problems that produce anger, over-eating or other negative behavior.  Interacting with horses has a calming effect on troubled humans, gives them a sense of purpose and builds self-confidence.   Eight horses and a staff of volunteers plus outside professionals work with clients from 3 to 96 years of age, according to Cindy Devine, executive director of the foundation.  Divided into groups – such as veterans, seniors, at-risk teens and victims of domestic abuse – the clients go riding together and team up to groom, feed and walk the horses.  Devine told me: “We love what we do, and the horses love what they do, and the clients become whole after time.  It is a win win win for all.”  To learn more, go to floridaequestrianfoundation.org.  For 88.9 FM, this is Paul Janensch.