Rescued Horses Who Are Helping Children Heal
The Horse Heaven Rescue in Runnells, Iowa was formed when Deb Hoyt started seeing healthy horses and ponies being needlessly put down at the veterinary office where she worked. The rescue grew from there and today they help 30 horses at a time find new and loving homes through their program. Deb explained, “We take in a lot of owner relinquished horses and horses whose owners have gotten too old or ill to care for them.” The staff at the Horse Heaven Rescue help malnourished or injured animals regain their health through veterinary care. Then, they work with the animals using training techniques like Monty Robert’s “Join Up” and programs from Clinton Anderson, Richard Shrake, and Pat Parelli.
One of the most exciting things about this horse rescue operation is its association with Healing Hearts with Horses equine therapy program for troubled youth and disabled children. Deb shared, “I see the miracles that happen when we bring the at risk children and youth that we work with and put them with the rescue horses. It is amazing to watch the bonds that form.” Using techniques like Equine Assisted Psychotherapy, the volunteer staff has been able to help a wide range of children ranging from kids with autism, cerebral palsy, to youth who are looking for a fresh start after being abused or coming from a bad situation.
For Deb and her staff, the biggest challenge is to find the funding to help both the horses and kids in her program. “I say we get paid in smiles as we do not charge our at-risk children or youth. We ask for donations but turn no one away for inability to pay. We are not fancy but we do good work!” To learn more about the Horse Heaven Rescue, visit their website.