“HOPE THROUGH HORSES”
Professional horse trainer and riding instructor Jessica Fry founded Wild Hearts Equine Therapy Center. Trained in globally recognized practices for equine-assisted therapy, she – along with her staff members – offer customized programs that incorporate a variety of methods that include riding and the basics of natural horsemanship. While evaluating a new program for veterans at Wild Hearts Equine Therapy Center, Derrick Popham (tri-county field office director of Upstate Warrior Solution) earned the trust of an anxious rescue horse.
Fry also developed an innovative approach in which participants help train rescued horses. Each participant works one-on-one with Fry to train a horse from an area rescue center. Sessions include learning to establish a connection with the horse, gaining its trust and then teaching it a variety of basic “ground” skills to prepare the horse for its next level of training.
“Many of the participants can relate to a neglected horse’s need for love, respect and compassion,” Fry said. “As these individuals improve the horses and get them ready for their news lives, they are also improving themselves, gaining important life skills such as confidence, self worth, the ability to focus intently and many others. It’s a powerful journey that for some results in subtle personal growth and yet is life-changing for others.”
She said the program also provides a sense of purpose, which is especially helpful to special-needs children, as well as veterans. Fry grew up on military bases (both of her parents are retired from careers in the Navy and volunteer at the center), and her compassion for veterans led her to partner with Greenville-based Upstate Warrior Solution, which refers veterans to her program.
Derrick Popham, tri-county field office director of Upstate Warrior Solution, and one of his colleagues evaluated the program to see how Fry’s approach works. He said he immediately saw how it helps people with post-traumatic stress disorder.
“I was blown away. Jessica had us work with a horse that had been abused. The horse was apprehensive. We were a bit nervous. But through her methods, the horse accepted us, relaxed and started following us around. You have to experience it to fully understand this program’s power,” Popham said, adding that many veterans can benefit from the program and purposefulness that comes from helping a rescued horse get a new start on life.
Fry’s goal is to raise enough money through the upcoming “Hope through Horses” event and other campaigns to make the programs free or low cost for veterans and special-needs children. The center is also in need of equipment to enhance its facilities (such as a ramp and hoist system to help people who have physical challenges, helmets, etc.).
To learn more about Wild Hearts Equine Therapy Center, to make a tax-deductible donation or to sponsor a child or veteran, go to www.wildheartsequinetherapy.org
or call (864) 991-9163.
About Wild Hearts Equine Therapy Center
Wild Hearts Equine Therapy Center is a 501(c)(3) (pending) non-profit organization that cultivates powerful connections between people and horses through innovative and customized equine-assisted learning and therapeutic riding programs. Programs are designed to help special-needs children, troubled teens and veterans. More information is available at www.wildheartsequinetherapy.org
or on Facebook at Wild Hearts Equine Therapy Center.
(866) 923-9980 ext. 1