Freedom Hooves Therapeutic Riding of Northwest Colorado: Horses valuable partners in human healing |

Freedom Hooves Therapeutic Riding of Northwest Colorado: Horses valuable partners in human healing

Connie Sue Ellis/For Craig Press
In this file photo, bubbles swirl around Connie Sue Ellis and Jackson the horse during Tuesday night training for Freedom Hooves Therapeutic Riding of Northwest Colorado. The program, which promotes healing for all ages through riding and caring for horses begins training sessions April 16.
File photo

Did you know that horses can read human emotions, such as sadness or nervousness, even before we’ve even consciously registered them? Horses are known to provide “mirroring” and biofeedback of human emotions, allowing participants a compassionate partner who responds and reflects in a way that brings awareness, opens neural pathways to healing patterns, and reduces stress and anxiety. Experiencing the rhythmic motion of a horse can be very beneficial, as well. Riding a horse moves the rider’s body in a manner similar to a human gait, so riders with physical needs often show improvement in flexibility, balance, and muscle strength. The research is solid; horses are valuable partners in healing the human body, mind, and spirit.

Through Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies, about 70,000 children and adults, including more than 6,700 veterans, find a sense of health, wellness, independence, and fun worldwide. Freedom Hooves Therapeutic Riding of Northwest Colorado is beginning its seventh year of impacting lives in our region by connecting the healing power of the horse with the needs of our community. Whether it’s a 5-year-old with Down syndrome, a 45-year-old recovering from a spinal cord injury, a senior citizen recovering from a stroke, or a teenager struggling with depression, research shows individuals of all ages who participate in equine-assisted activities and therapies can experience physical and emotional rewards.

Under the helm of our new Program Director Talisha Christiansen, participants and volunteers will engage with horses throughout our 2019 season, running May through October. This year’s lineup of programs includes the following

• Therapeutic Horsemanship — Provides therapies for riders with needs (cognitive, developmental, emotional, physical, sensory)

• Ranch Hands — Teaches youth ages 12 to 21 to overcome challenges

• Horsemanship and Job Skills, Horizons Specialized Services — expands opportunities for individuals with developmental disabilities

• Family Services — Supports the healing process for family units

• Veterans and First Responders Program — comes alongside heroes through horsemanship activities.

If you or a loved one is facing mental, emotional, or physical challenges, consider participating in one of our programs. If the thought of helping others through horsemanship interests you, please consider serving our community through volunteerism or financial support.

Did you know horses can smile? Join us this year as we share smiles, and learn with us. Community members, regardless of prior experience, are welcome to come and help us train our therapy horses on Tuesday evenings through the season, beginning April 16. Additionally, volunteers to assist participants or to care for our equine partners are encouraged to join our wonderful horse care team. Are you interested in being a participant, but not sure if you qualify? Please connect us for more information.

March 30 claims the date for our annual fundraiser dinner, set for 5 p.m. at the Moffat County Fairgrounds. Join us as we celebrate the beginning of another great season and learn about all we have to offer. Participant and volunteer applications will be available, along with all the fun and activities. If the weather is just right and the stars all align, perhaps our unicorn will make an appearance at this special event.

Save the date of June 1 and join us on our family-friendly trail ride at the Bureau of Land Management’s Duffy Mountain along the beautiful Yampa River in Moffat County, Colorado.

For more information, visit, come by the BBQ Dinner Fundraiser 5 p.m. March, 30 at the Moffat County Fairgrounds, email, or call 970-701-9085.

Connie Sue Ellis is the facility owner and instructor and was recently appointed executive director of Freedom Hooves. 

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