BY SAVANAH RESNIK
Life-altering experiences can leave people needing comfort in their lives and sometimes not knowing where to find it. Horses give people that comfort, but sometimes horses themselves need comfort from us.
“Indian River Equestrian Foundation is a forever home for horses,” says founder Kelly A. Walker. “I want them to be happy and healthy, not worrying where their next home will be or when their next meal will be.”
“We rescue horses that have been given up on by people and that need help. We work with them until they are safe enough to be able to work in our programs providing therapy for the needed,” said Walker.
Horses are therapists to all different groups of people that come out to the barn to volunteer, says Walker. Youth Guidance, a mentor group that has kids from all different backgrounds, go to the barn to take part in the equine activities.
The kids learn how to trust the horses and take care of them. They start their afternoon with the horses by grooming the horses. They then go on to learning how to tack up the horses. This involving putting a saddle on the horse and putting the bridle on.
The rescue horses have challenging pasts that they learn to overcome when they are at the foundation. Each horse has a different story that allows each and every person to connect with them differently.
“Jerzee Boy is a race horse that we rescued from Ocala,” said Walker. “Jerzee Boy wasn’t as calm as the other horses when he arrived at IREF. With time, dedication and love, the rescue showed the 5-year-old thoroughbred that he was able to trust everyone and has since calmed down.”
When the horses learn to trust the people, it’s similar to when the kids in the Youth Guidance program learn to trust the horses. The children have trouble at home and are looking for something to connect with. The horses give them the opportunity to connect and build trust with one another.