By Amber (Schatz) Danks
Three women, who share a love for horses, are leading the charge in equine-assisted therapies in southwestern North Dakota.
Kristi Blaser, Jackie Freitag, and Robyn Mrnak started giving Hope and Healing Therapeutic Riding lessons in May of 2016. The nonprofit organization offers equine-assisted activities and therapies to individuals with physical, mental, emotional, and behavior challenges.
“When riding or even just spending time with my horses I am able to clear my head, relax, and really get a perspective, and to have that ever so important time with God; to get a grasp on my life and priorities. It helps me to then be a better individual, mom, and wife,” says Kristi.
Hope and Healing Therapeutic Riding has helped around 11 people so far, but Kristi says there is a big need in the community.
“Therapeutic riding gives a man who has many struggles in his life a chance to sit on a horse and not only physically get stronger but also emotionally,” explains Kristi. “It helps a little girl get over a fear. It helps a young boy to know that there is kindness in this world. It helps a lady to gain strength in her legs and core that she hadn’t had before. It helps a gentleman to not only learn to speak clearer but to also stretch and gain strength physically.
“There are so many aspects and ways that therapeutic riding helps people. To see the smiles is therapy for me. It lightens my heart and lets me know God is here and is working every day in our lives.”
Kristi says riding helped shape her into the person she is today. She is hoping to pass that same experience on to people of all ages who may need the horse therapy.
“Horses are truly a gift from above and have a purpose in our lives if we allow and are open to it. I have seen the difference a horse has made in my own girls. Their attitude is so much better and they can think clearer. Along with that they are learning responsibility and compassion for taking care of another life. They are able to feel the connection with their horse and to understand it better than we can explain to them.”
For more information or to sign up to be a volunteer with the horse therapy group, you can check out Hope and Healing Therapeutic Riding on Facebook.