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"There's Something about the Outside of a Horse that Is Good for the Inside of a Man"

Reflecting on 2023, is it odd to say horses have been in some way calling me? It all started with a trip to Cumberland Island this summer. Cumberland Island is the southernmost and largest of Georgia's barrier islands. It is accessible only by ferry and beautifully undeveloped.

However, our first attempt was delayed by a massive downpour while standing in line for the boat. We decided to "go with the flow" as a close-by sign inadvertently suggested and attempt the trip on a different day. We watched the dedicated ferry depart without us as my kids jumped in puddles. Little did I know the "flow" my next journey would take me on.

Rain was in the forecast for the remainder of our trip. However, it suddenly changed the last two days of our vacation to sun. We decided to re-attempt the ferry and it was successful!

Once stepping on Cumberland Island, a beautiful wild horse greeted me. I was mesmerized. As more horses arrived, I noticed their gentle nature. I did not want to get too close, but was surprised at their tranquility. In my mind, I thought a "wild horse"would act more agitated or aggressive like a sport mascot stallion. By contrast, these creatures were so peaceful. It turns out there is science behind that. Since horses are prey animals, they need to be hyperaware of surroundings to avoid predators. Therefore, they are very sensitive to emotions, feelings, and the energy a person or other animal puts off around them. They easily sense danger, anxiety, or anger and will react to it.

I was captivated and needed to learn more. Back at our hotel on Amelia Island, I booked a beach horse ride in a Y.O.LO. moment. It was a wonderful bonding moment and I couldn't help to notice that the horses were so graceful. As the creature steadily inhaled and exhaled, I could feel it with my body. This created a sense of calmness inside me.

A few months later, fate aligned The Legacy Ranch and I together. I decided to become an equine therapy volunteer and love my new found animal friends. It turns out equine-assisted therapy is truly magical for many individuals with so many benefits.

In my latest podcast episode, I sat down and talked with Sandi Moleski, Founder and CEO of The Legacy Ranch. She discusses the fascinating benefits of horses and how The Legacy Ranch was created from grief and tragedy. Check out her incredibly moving episode here:

Sandi tells us in order to really have a relationship with a horse you have to meet them both physically and emotionally. They often times mirror what we do. Sandi admits it is counterintuitive to feel a sense of peace among a 1500-pound animal. However, it is exactly that power which makes such a difference. With the size of the horse's heart, its heartbeat and respirations helps regulate our own. As in human life, relationships require trust, love, and effort. Much like people, patience and time are needed with the horse to earn their trust. Sandi states, "When a horse loves and trusts and you love and trust them-it is an amazing relationship."

Equine therapy (physical, occupational, and speech) is sometimes referred to as hippotherapy. (Hippos in Greek means horse). It is the movement of the horse itself that helps the client's strength while in the warm saddle. In addition, this is difficult to recreate in more traditional medical environments. The horse provides movement, which our brain and body understands and processes. This has been documented to help with a variety of conditions including autism, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, head injury, stroke, behavioral concerns, mental health issues, arthritis, and more.

To find out more visit The Legacy Ranch's website:

Thanks for taking the time to read! To Mom is To Love mission is to support, encourage, and empower each other as imperfect moms to love as a verb. Subscribe for the latest updates on To Mom is To Love podcasts and writing.

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