In 2020, I embarked on a transformative journey of self-discovery and healing that ultimately led to the creation of Healing on Manes. It all began with a stay at a rehabilitation center in California, a crucial step in supporting my mental health following a difficult period that included a suicide attempt and hospitalization. I was broken, lost, and struggling every day, desperately seeking solace and purpose.
During my time at Newport Academy, I was granted a daily block for schoolwork, as well as the opportunity to engage in equine therapy once a week. Horses had held a special place in my heart since childhood, and I had always sought ways to be close to these majestic creatures, even working at barns just to be near them. My fascination with horses extended to collecting books and movies about them. When I participated in equine therapy at Newport, my life was forever changed. Amidst the herd, I found the solace and peace I had been yearning for.
It was in that transformative moment that I decided I wanted to dedicate the rest of my life to integrating animals into mental health therapy. While at Newport, I completed equine first aid courses, delved into research on the profound connection between equines and humans, and stumbled upon a book called "Joey" about a blind horse. This book, and subsequent correspondence with the folks at Hope Reins, confirmed my calling.
5 year old me would be so damn proud.
My very first picture of Scotty
I began journaling and brainstorming, trying to figure out how to turn my dream into a reality and how to help others in the process. My vision was clear: I wanted to create a haven for both rescued horses and wounded hearts. This vision later evolved into our mission statement, "rescued horses rescuing hearts." It was essential to me that we always use rescue animals for this purpose.
Upon my return home from Newport, my dream faced financial obstacles due to mounting medical bills and the costs of my therapy. I started reaching out to local barns in the hope of running a program using their facilities, but many doors remained closed. It was a new concept, and I was a newcomer to the equine world with a limited budget.
Remarkably, just four months after my discharge from rehab, Healing on Manes was born and officially approved as a nonprofit organization. It was an incredible moment when Jen from Wind Hill Farm responded to our inquiry and agreed to meet, bringing the perfect horse, Scotty, into our lives. Though Scotty was owned by Jen, she leased him to us, and I will forever be grateful for her generosity. Scotty had a challenging past and a broken body when Jen rescued him, yet his kind spirit and purpose extended far beyond merely being a riding horse.
Our journey with Scotty marked the official beginning of Healing on Manes. As I worked to rehabilitate him and introduced children to our program, we received positive feedback from families. We hosted a few successful fundraisers, and it became evident that Scotty was not only helping me heal but also the children he worked with, and at the same time, we were helping him. It was a mutually therapeutic relationship.
In 2022, we applied for our first grant to fund my certification in equine-assisted services. We were fortunate to receive the grant and some additional support, enabling me to begin the Natural Lifemanship certification process. This journey exposed me to the intricacies of attachment and detachment, trauma work, and personal growth. It allowed me to heal not only Scotty but also myself.
My deep understanding of trauma and my ability to read people stem from personal experience. I've lived through it, faced it, and had to learn to live with myself. My knack for reading people and horses came from countless hours of studying nonverbal communication, self-discovery, and integration of these skills into therapeutic practices. Letting go of control and fostering a deep connection with detachment (a challenging practice) has been a profound personal journey.
For years, I hesitated to share my story, but I now understand its importance. I'm a real person who has faced struggles, just like everyone, possibly including you, if you've read this far. This is my dream, a lifelong mission to empower individuals to heal through the presence of animals. I will never give up on it because it's my purpose, and I discovered it at a time when I almost lost everything.
Looking ahead, my five-year plan involves completing my Bachelor's in Human Services by Spring 2024, which I'm close to achieving. I intend to pursue a Master's in Social Work and continue integrating animals and trauma-informed care practices. My ultimate goal is to share with the world the incredible power of animals to heal.
Healing on Manes is not just a dream, but a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the unwavering bond between humans and animals. This journey has taught me that even in our darkest moments, we can find our purpose and, with unwavering determination, help others heal. As we look to the future, I am committed to spreading the transformative potential of animals in the realm of mental health, and I pledge to stand as a living testament to the incredible power of healing, the inncredible strength of the human heart, and the boundless compassion of rescue animals. Together, we will continue to write stories of hope, recovery, and transformation, one hoofbeat at a time.