It's not called horsepower for nothing. Jupiter-based nonprofit therapeutic center Hopes, Dreams and Horses (HDH) puts people with physical, mental, social and emotional needs on the backs of horses and gives them the reigns. Its mission to “improve the quality of life of children and adults through equine therapy and interaction” is seen through just about every action, from the work with riders down to the care for the horses.
Part horse rescue, part therapeutic riding center, HDH helps individuals with special needs connect through horses, be it riding or simply coming to the barn and being in their presence. The nonprofit assists people such as at-risk youth, seniors, amateur riders, veterans, cancer patients and survivors, and individuals with socialization and communication needs.
Horses have a natural and unique ability to reach people who have been injured, afflicted by disease or coping with social and cognitive disorders. It all stems from the pelvis. Similar to humans, a horse’s pelvis has three-dimensional movement, giving its natural gait a similar rhythmic motion to that of people. This helps riders whose core and large muscle groups have atrophied or gone dormant because of injury or being wheelchair-bound improve physical conditions like balance, coordination, reflexes, range of motion, muscle development and decreased spasticity.
The horse’s gait also helps stimulate the nervous system, encouraging people who fall within the autism spectrum be more open to taking in information. Beyond gait and skeletal structure, the bond between human and horse, the task-oriented nature of riding and the goal-oriented therapies enacted at HDH help improve the rider's self-esteem while working on physical and occupational therapy strategies. Programs like therapeutic riding, equine-assisted psychotherapy and equine-assisted learning harness the power of horses to instill an overall sense of well being, improve confidence and self-esteem and create a dynamic of positive communication as well as a place for relationship growth.
HDH is not only a therapeutic place for humans but horses as well, acting a rescue center for horses that are no longer wanted or have been abandoned or abused. Since Executive Director Sue Copeland founded HDH in 1997, 42 horses have been rescued, 10 of which are still in service with the organization today. The sense when walking among the stalls at the Jupiter Farms stable is overwhelmingly positive, a place where good is the basis of every action.
- For more information on Hopes, Dreams and Horses' mission, visit hopesdreamsandhorses.com.