Reboot Charlotte: Abused Horses Heal Abused Humans
FORT MILL, S.C. - The words on the side of a Fort Mill stable say it all: "Peace. Love. Happiness...with horses."
"Most people you know, they'll say, 'Well, they're just big dumb animals, aren't they?' What they don't realize is the ability they have," says Katie Holme. She is the founder of Healing Horses, a local rescue that takes in the unwanted, unloved animals.
Two years ago, she invited a few people with Post Traumatic Stress or other emotional disorders to spend time with the horses. After tremendous results, Holme is now focused on growing the program. She says, "The horses actually helped me heal, so I feel obligated to pay it forward."
Holme also suffers from PTSD, from a workplace attack nearly 20 years ago. It was an abused horse that finally helped heal her emotional scars. She says, "They can experience all sorts of trauma themselves but as soon as they recover from it, unlike people, they don't hold on to it."
"This brings you back to who you really are," says a woman we'll call "Jane." She is about eight months into her healing journey with the horses. Jane spent 25 years exploring medication and counseling, but it's spending time with a horse named "Santee" that gives her hope that she will one day put a traumatic childhood behind her. She says, "It's that lighter outlook on life. Everything is not so dark, everything is not so frightening."
When people think of horses and therapy, they often think of horseback riding. Riding is actually a small part of this program. Grooming is where the relationship begins. "The grooming gets the connection going, and you're with them and you can't think about anything else, no matter what may be plaguing you," says Jane.
"Mister" is a recent addition to the healing horse program. He was found neglected in Kannapolis and still has a lot of weight to put on, but when he does, he'll join Santee, Mandela and others as animal abuse survivors who help humans with all sorts of emotional scars heal. Holme says, "Really it's anyone with a broken heart, which there seems to be multiples of everywhere."
Admission into the program is based on the horses; Holme says they're a good judge of people who come for the right reasons. The cost is $20 per session, no matter if the session is 30 minutes or three hours. That money goes toward feeding the horses. Go to http://www.healinghorses.us/site/healing-with-horses/