Horses for Hope
Designed to aid our country’s veterans in their mental health and suicide prevention while they aid in training horses. These horses will then “graduate” from their veteran run program and head over to Bird Dog Ranch where they will further serve through equine therapy with the special needs community and animal- assisted therapy for cancer
Suicide among service members and veterans is a national security crisis. We owe them, their families, and their fellow service members and veterans a better, more coordinated response to address the military and veteran suicide crisis. Ensuring access to evidence-based care for mental health greatly reduces suicide risk among those with behavioral health problems, including depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and addiction.
“Through horse-human interaction, veterans can relearn how to recognize their feelings, regulate emotions, and better communicate, as well as build trust and come to trust themselves again—all valuable tools to help them succeed with family, work, and social relationships,” Dr. Prudence Fisher, Columbia University Irving Medical Center
Special Needs Community
Equine therapy gives a disabled child a physically enjoyable experience (learning to ride a horse) that helps develop muscle tone, balance, and coordination. It also helps the child develop and improve hand-eye coordination. EAT is often used in treating a wide spectrum of conditions, among them substance abuse, behavioral disorders, learning difficulties, ADD/ADHD, autism, Asperger’s, grief, loss, trauma, bipolar disorders and depression. “Horses have no preconceived expectations or motives, and they are non-judgmental, highly intelligent and exceedingly perceptive, so they connect with people in a completely new way. This is different from anything these children have experienced at school. It is not about discipline or grading but about facing something entirely foreign and reaching their own milestones. Witnessing the confidence and pride that comes with accomplishing something so new to them is exceptionally rewarding.” - Alexa Rostovsky, Harvard University.
Chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, hormone therapy, targeted therapy: the list of cancer treatments are endless. Treatment is also available to treat the psychological, social and spiritual side effects of the disease. For some, the answer comes through equine therapy, specifically the unmounted, psychological rehabilitation with horses. Whether learning something new or having the ability to do something by oneself, equine therapy can be an extremely empowering experience for cancer patients. Patients involved in this type of therapy often express feeling a sense of control and the ability to overcome fear and nervousness. Allan J. Hamilton, a Professor of Surgery at the University of Arizona, holds equine therapy retreats for cancer patients. He explains, “the idea is that a large animal like a horse can become a metaphor for something powerful and potentially out of control,” much like cancer and similar life-threatening diseases. Dr. Hamilton adds that the metaphor can be used, “to start talking about how we approach cancer, and the values and attitudes we want in order to bring about a successful survival.”
"There's something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man." - Winston Churchill
Horses respond to patients in unique ways, including mirroring their emotions. Horses are even known to sync their heartbeat with their rider or a person on the ground. A horse’s social and responsive behavior is similar to a human’s, which allows them to establish a connection. This might be why equine therapy is quickly becoming one of the most popular forms of Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT).
Horses for Hope Director of Development
After five years in Colorado where her love for horses began Kate moved to Florida, where she married her high school sweetheart and they now have three amazing children.
In 2014, at 4.5 months old Kate’s friend’s son was diagnosed with neuroblastoma. Kate co-organized a benefit and auction for this amazing family and it sparked her love of giving. That event gave more to Kate than it ever could have to the family it was helping. In 2018 another friend’s daughter was diagnosed with glioblastoma. Then Kate, herself was diagnosed with stage 4, metastatic, breast cancer the end of 2018.
By the grace of God all three are currently NEaD (No Evidence of active disease). And for Kate it has been like sitting on the side lines of three miracles in one.
Kate was then guided back to her love for horses and eventually she bought a small farm. After chemotherapy, radiation and multiple surgeries her riding abilities are limited but she was determined to find a way to incorporate her love of horses and her strong desire to help children.
When Kate is passionate about something she will not stop until it’s successful. Her love of horses, children and now the people of The Human Collective will drive her to an extremely beneficial situation for all people and animals involved.