Horses with HEART, Inc
Chino Valley, Arizona
Izzy came to us four years ago because quite frankly she was too much for anyone to handle— not because she was bad, but because she wanted something more to do. Somehow our girl always ended up escaping or getting into mischief. My daughter who is her "person" feels it was to give others a chance to be more than what people see on the outside.
Izzy is a hinny (not normal bred because of their tendency to be tenacious). Izzy is tenacious and can be mulish in a lot of cases until she is dealing with a child. In those moments, something extraordinary comes over her and she is anything we need her to be. Our program allows for equine activities, enrichment, and riding for individuals with special needs. Izzy somehow understands that these kids need just a little more understanding to accomplish what others can with ease. We have children across all spectrums of disabilities including autism, down syndrome, developmental or emotional delayed or children dealing with mental and emotional crises within their homes. Izzy caters to all their needs.
Too often people look at her and think she is only a mule, yet Izzy proves each week she is more than what someone sees upon face value. She will tirelessly run the course for all our kids if she was needed as easily as she would one child. We have used dice, bubbles, pool noodles, rings, fishing poles, costumes while a child sits upon her back. She is the backbone of our program who has helped children interact with others, work on their speech, coordinate their motor skills and build their muscles. Izzy has even been credited with helping a boy sit up from their physical therapist. She has quite the resume and being ten years old, we hope there is more wonderful development, acceptance and smiles in her future. Giving this award to Izzy would really help bridge the gap to assist some people to see that all equines can give therapy, love and acceptance. It would also help us promote the lessons we try to teach every time we are out there that we may look different and we may get to our goal differently, but we can get there.
Lake Worth, Florida
DeeDee (Delegada X) is a PRE. She came into our daughter’s life after a difficult move to a different country; we thought the mare would ease the transition. They became each other’s BFF.
In 2016, our daughter was critically injured in the Brussels Airport terrorist attack. DeeDee saved her. We brought DeeDee to the hospital after 4 months and it was that day that our daughter decided there was someone waiting for her and started to recover. DeeDee accepted that bea was now paralyzed and had no lower legs. They went on to rider FEI para dressage together.
Our daughter has other horses now but DeeDee is her ‘person’. DeeDee is intuitive and any para rider can safely get in her and thrive.
DeeDee is semi-retired and living on our daughter’s farm in Loxahatchee Florida. DeeDee is head horse and is loved by all. Many other riders have come to train with her; she’s so much more than ‘just a horse’. She’s funny, kind, smart…. After everything she has done for Beatrice, she deserves to be considered for this award.
The Wild Hope
Jewel is our co-founder! While mentoring trafficking survivors she was the mustang that always made a special connection with survivors. It’s their interactions and a survivor telling me that working w/Jewel made her feel human again that compelled me to start The Wild Hope. Jewel’s story of survival, capture in the wild, captivity, branding, adoption, and perseverance resonates deeply with survivors of human trafficking.
Jewel’s owners saw the power of the relationships she was forming with these survivors and donated her to us. She is the org's first horse, mascot, co-founder, and teacher. Not to mention a beautiful friend! And if Jewel’s impact on trafficking survivors wasn’t enough, she has also deeply impacted my life. As a complex trauma survivor myself, she has been a salve to my bleeding soul; she’s teaching me about boundaries, relationships and commitment. In all honesty, I’m not sure I would have made it through the past couple of years without her.
Jewel deserves Therapy Horse of the year because she exemplifies the very journey many of our clients are on and brings a wild hope to many who didn’t believe their lives were worth living, myself included. Thanks so much for doing this and highlighting the power of the work you and so many orgs are doing with the help of our horse heroes!
Horse Haven Montana
After retirement from the US Forest Service working equine program, I adopted Stormy for Horse Haven. At the time, nobody wanted him. They said, "too old, too big, needs too much feed.” I thought he was beautiful, kind, and gentle and he needed a home ASAP or might go to slaughter.
As a government retiree, the agency can’t keep horses not being used. Once adopted, Stormy became the favorite of every youth in our program. Some had never been around horses and were frightened. Others had physical challenges that were helped by the movement of grooming and walking a horse. Some of the children came from homes of abuse and neglect and one young woman had autism. They all gravitated to Stormy and he to them.
Recently, Stormy is the “chosen one,” for seniors who want to connect with horses. What makes him special is his soft eye, gentle demeanor, and willing temperament. Where he had been the lowest horse in his herd hierarchy, leading to fear, weight loss and uncertainty, at Horse Haven he became the top horse, the one everyone chose. As important, he became a friend and protector of Roso, a small, senior horse whose entire life had been one of abuse and neglect. When Stormy met Roso at Horse Haven, he watched over him, stood close while Roso slept, allowed him to share his hay, quietly stood by his side. As long as Roso was alive, Stormy was his constant friend and companion.
Now aged 31 Stormy found his purpose, forever loved by one and all.