The rescued horses at Henry's Home Horse and Human Sanctuary in Conroe, Texas know what it's like to overcome challenges. They come from hurt and heartbreak, and many of the 25 equines were rescued on the brink of death. Mr. Henry, for example, almost starved to death during a severe drought in 2011. A mini mule named Pearl would have ended up at an auction and most likely sold to a Mexican slaughterhouse if Henry's Home hadn't decided to give her a chance.
Past neglect and the auction block are two regular themes among the Henry's Home herd, but more than that, these rescue horses have something else in common. They've all found hope and happiness with a team of human volunteers, and now they're paying it forward.
A Caring Sanctuary
A team of dedicated volunteers nursed Mr. Henry, Miss Mini Pearl, and the rest of the Henry's Home rescued animals back to health . Henry's Home is a non-profit horse sanctuary that gives a forever home to neglected or otherwise unwanted animals. Volunteers help the horses heal from physical injuries and give them time and space to overcome past trauma. They also train the horses, donkeys, and mules to be comfortable around people. When the animals are ready, they take on meaningful work in the sanctuary's veteran program.
The program called "Horses and Heroes" was developed based on scientific research of the benefits of equine therapy and real-life experiences in the saddle. Equine therapy uses horses to connect with people and encourage things like confidence, empathy, impulse control, and social interaction. At Henry's Home, rescue horses work with veterans, first responders, and their families to facilitate better mental health and healing.
Hope and Healing
Many of the program participants come to the sanctuary suffering from depression, anxiety, feelings of isolation, and PTSD. Some of them have a history of being around horses, and others get in the saddle for the very first time. The goal for each session isn't to train expert riders. Instead, the focus is on how horsemanship can help veterans struggling to communicate their feelings or cope with past trauma. With a lead rope in their hands and a rescue horse standing beside them, the bravest members of society begin unraveling the emotional trauma left behind by injuries, loss, and tragedy. The horses are the doctors, and they're good at their jobs.
Every rescue horse at Henry's Home is unique. An OTTB named Mr. Cisco is a natural leader, and he enjoys taking amateur riders out on trail rides. A Percheron named Miss Diva is a gentle giant that is often paired with veterans that are new to horses. Regardless of their background, every horse that participates in the Horses and Heroes program finds fulfilling and meaningful work.
While caring for a herd of horses isn't easy, Henry's Home offers this program free of charge. They provide a relaxed atmosphere where horses and humans come together to learn about themselves and each other. There is no judgement and no expectations. Program participants learn about horses, have the opportunity to try new skills, and make valuable connections along the way. At the same time, the rescue horses have the chance to form bonds, keep active, and feel like part of a family. It's a win-win situation for everyone involved.
If you know a veteran or first responder who would benefit from time spent with rescue horses, contact Henry's Home Horse and Human Sanctuary. They're also accepting new volunteers!
Featured image via Facebook/Henry's Home Horses and Human Sanctuary