"Connecting the Healing Power of the Horse with the Needs of the Community"
Recognizing a need in our community for alternative therapies, Freedom Hooves began in the spring of 2012 when PATH certified riding instructors Joan Heinz and Jane Hendricks visited the Ellis facility in Craig, Colorado and collaborated to begin a therapeutic horsemanship program. By October of 2012, a successful pilot program served 8 students and received much needed community support. As we continued to grow and flourish, Freedom Hooves began collaborating with Steamboat Adaptive Recreational Sports (STARS) riding program in 2017 by sharing our staff, horses, wisdom, and expertise, as Joan Heinz provided program direction and instruction for STARS. When our founding Program Director moved away in 2018, the continuation of sharing resources with STARS became even more valuable, as they provided program direction and instruction for Freedom Hooves' 2018 season. In 2019 Freedom Hooves hired a full time Program Director, Talisha Christansen, who brought a wealth of knowledge and new ideas to our burgeoning organization. Fresh ideas and dedicated staff have led Freedom Hooves to provide unique and varied programs as we continue to find new ways to connect the healing power of the horse to the needs of our community.
"Freedom Hooves gives me a reason to get out of bed. I have Multiple Sclerosis and suffer severe fatigue. Depression was my constant companion until I found Freedom Hooves. Riding horses has given me something to look forward too. The horses are patient and gentle. Petting them makes me feel more relaxed and calms my soul. While I am riding, I can feel my back and hip alignment straighten out. After I complete the ride, I have more feeling in my legs and I am able to walk better. I stumble less and my balance is a lot better. Falling less often increases my confidence, which in turn, reduces my depression. I can't say enough about how wonderful the people who make Freedom Hooves work are, especially the young girls who show so much compassion and responsibility to this program. Freedom Hooves has not only given me better physical and mental health; it has given me many new friends. Freedom Hooves is the perfect name for this program because those hooves have given me freedom." L. R. (participant)
"Freedom Hooves has really been such a huge part of healing, not only for me but also for my family. After suffering a traumatic brain injury from a car accident and being disabled for several years, I felt overwhelmed by the hardship and changes my family had to go through due to my injury; I was dealing with physical injuries and mental health issues- depression, PTSD, and anxiety. Freedom Hooves gave us the space to heal in so many ways. Not only did we get the opportunity to build a bond with horses, which became very therapeutic, but we learned how to ride, work as a team, and strengthen our family bond by trusting each other, the instructors/volunteers, the horses, and ourselves." K Family
"My daughter, Rachel, has been involved with Freedom Hooves for the last 4-5 years. Through that time, we have endured some tough family losses. This program has been essential in enabling Rachel to heal from those losses. Her self-confidence and character have greatly improved. I cannot say enough about the healing power of the horse!" M.P., parent of participant
"I volunteer my time to Freedom Hooves throughout the year. I help in lessons, clean the barn, fix the fences, and help keep the facility a clean and safe environment for our clients and horses. Freedom Hooves has been a part of my life for several years now and I have learned so much. Just from volunteering, it has taught me numerous things such as working with horses safely, organization, leadership, job skills, and even people skills. Freedom Hooves has been like a family and I'm very proud to be a part of this organization to help the community, and to bring joy into so many people's lives, like it has for mine. I've discovered my passion for helping people through therapy on the horse, which I never would have found without this amazing program." K.E., Volunteer (age 14)
"My small family of five, one mom and four kiddos, started coming to Freedom Hooves around the end of May 2018 and we continued doing sessions throughout the summer. The entire program was fantastic. The kids and I suffered from varying forms of PTSD following a lengthy domestic violence relationship, and [our instructor] was able to direct the experiences into what was currently affecting our life. The kids grew leaps and bounds and still utilize the tools they learned. Not only was [our instructor] amazing during our sessions, she provided so much support outside of them as well with the court stuff, unexpected medical stuff, and adjusting to this new life as a single mom of four. We love Freedom Hooves and hope to someday go back and volunteer to help others gain the perspective and freedom we gained." JD (participant)