Smiling volunteers  and teen vaulting on a Mustang during therapeutic riding lesson.

Horses Helping Humans

THE BOND BETWEEN THE HUMAN AND THE HORSE IS THOUSANDS OF YEARS OLD.  UNTIL RECENT HISTORY THE HORSE WAS A CONSTANT IN OUR WESTERN WORLD.  IT WAS THE POWER THAT BUILT OUR NATION.  THE HORSE TILLED OUR FIELDS, CARRIED OUR PRODUCE TO MARKET, PULLED OUR WAGONS, CARRIED OUR FAMILY.  THE HORSE WAS A DAILY PART OF HUMAN LIFE.


MODERN EQUINE THERAPY EXPLORES AND DEVELOPS THIS ANCIENT BOND. IT HAS BEEN NOTED THAT HORSES CALM US, THEY CHALLENGE US.  WHEN WE LEARN TO COMMUNICATE WITH HORSES WE LEARN MUCH ABOUT OURSELVES.  IF WE ARE ANXIOUS, THEY CAN TEACH US TO CONTROL OUR FEAR. IF WE ARE ANGRY, THEY TEACH US ANGER WILL GET US NOWHERE. IF  WE ARE LONELY, THEY ARE THERE.  




Research has also pointed to the physical benefits of horseback riding. On the back of a horse the human is elevated to the walking position.  The cadence of the horse's stride approximates motion of the human gait and allows the rider to develop core muscles and build the balance and strength that enables the human to walk.    





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Special Needs Student with Kiger Mustang

The Healing Power of Horses

The healing power of horses  seems truly magical, however  research and science is bearing out what many have known for a long time.  Relationships with horses help humans-- physically, emotionally and intellectually.  

Stacey Harnew-Swanson, MA has been a teacher for over twenty years.  In 2005 she began her research in Equine Therapy. Using Mustangs adopted from Oregon's BLM wild horse herds, she started working with children of varying ability levels.  



Special Strengths programing

Cowboy with a wheelchair being greeted by Regalo de Gran Corazon, Kiger Mustang

From the Director

The term "special needs" can be stifling.  We all have special needs; we all have special strengths.  In our program we have the luxury of approaching each learning opportunity  from the student's strengths and this yields great results  

                                                                                                      WHMR Director and Lead Instructor 

                                                                                                                  Stacey Harnew-Swanson, MA


Stacey  has worked with students and taught preschool through college courses. Her biggest, however, influence has been her own children.  Stacey's oldest child was especially influential as she was diagnosed as gifted at a young age and later, after discovery of a brain tumor, was placed on the other  spectrumof special needs programs.  Stacey notes that all the while, she was the same smart and funny little girl.  The teaching style Stacey uses at WHMR embodies is an outgrowth of the lessons her daughter taught her.

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