Healing people with horses in Bismarck

Published: Sep. 18, 2022 at 10:48 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - One Bismarck non-profit is helping bring horses and therapeutic services to more people. At TR 4 Heart and Soul, a group of women are getting certified to help heal people with horses.

Although these animals are vastly different from humans when it comes to feelings, there are more similarities than you might think.

“They can sense what you’re feeling; they can sense energy. They can sense anything that you have going on. They know that something’s wrong,” said Jessie Moe, program assistance director with Bison Strides.

The therapeutic services are more than just riding a horse. The instructors learn about emotional regulations, social and emotional disorders, and how to help people with all disabilities and abilities.

“We do have specific and ethical standards, professional and ethical standards that we follow,” said Katie Oakland, executive director at TR 4 Heart and Soul.

Oakland started TR 4 Heart and Soul with only four participants but now shares her life’s passion with over 6,000 visitors a year, which Oakland attributes to all the donors and volunteers that have helped.

“It’s seeing like all the dreams I had as a child, you know, into my adulthood and helping people reach their full potential through partnerships through horses. I think that it’s amazing just to be a part of it,” said Oakland.

Throughout the certifications, the women are working towards how to use the horses to teach people about how to manage better issues they’re facing.

“A lot of our participants have had some sort of trauma, which is a lot of what we’re learning about today and the horses they live in the flight response. So they are prey animals, so they are always constantly aware. So a brain that is living in trauma or has experienced trauma is also in that flight response area,” said Moe.

The horses have become a perfect fit to balance the fun of the activity, but also being a key part of the therapeutic session.

“So horses are really good at kind of addressing what we’re going through, and they often mirror what our bodies are doing,” said Moe.

Upon completing their certifications from The Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship, the women will help people all over North and South Dakota.

All of the different organizations the women belong to cater toward different therapeutic sessions for veterans, children, and people of all walks of life.