Horses are gentle beings that often incite powerful emotional reactions in humans; people seem to love them or fear them. Love and fear are two emotions at the heart of many of life’s greater issues. Herd animals are often considered naturally empathetic. Empathy helps create a relationship between horse and rider in which both become attuned and yield to the other. The Medicine Horse Center combines the psychological and therapeutic benefits of working with horses with a mental health staff of licensed therapists to offer equine therapy.
Located five minutes from Durango in the Mancos Valley, the Medicine Horse Center is the only one of its kind in the Four Corners Region. They primarily serve people of low income with horses that come from rescue, rehabilitation and rehoming situations. They offer various individual and group programs such as experiential learning, equine-assisted psychotherapy and therapeutic riding for those with developmental limitations. The medical staff at the Medicine Horse Center typically sees positive results within the first few lessons. According to their website, “It has been said that horses are the mirrors to the soul. They are also the mirrors to human emotions, feelings, attitudes and behaviors. It is this that makes them especially powerful therapeutic partners.“ Clients typically show an increased ability to open up emotionally and gain confidence and social competence. The Medicine Horse Center helps those experiencing loss, emotional growing pains, PTSD, autism, Down syndrome, and Alzheimer’s.
The center offers hippotherapy as well which is derived from the Greek word for horse, “hippos”. Hippotherapy utilizes the horse’s rhythmic movement as a medical treatment for clients with physical or cognitive challenges. According to the Medicine Horse Center, “It’s all about horses helping people helping horses” because many of the horses have been rescued they benefit greatly from strong relationships with people. The Medicine Horse Center works to spread joy by helping human and horse work together to nurture, inspire and heal one another.