Horses helping humans, a unique concept that works

Hoof Beats for Healing’s first fundraiser offered a homemade spaghetti dinner, dance and silent auction for a small donation. All proceeds of the benefit will go to the non-profit to help with client sessions and horse care. Organizers are proud of the event’s success.

On Saturday Nov. 23, at the Rothsay Event Center, Hoof Beats For Healing, a local, non-profit equine assisted therapy riding program, put on its first fundraiser to overwhelming success. Horses helping humans: it’s a unique concept that works.

The event offered a homemade spaghetti dinner, dance and silent auction for a small donation. All proceeds of the benefit will go to the non-profit to help with client sessions and horse care.

Hoof Beats for Healing opened its doors about three years ago to offer equine assisted therapy near Kent, Minnesota. Hoof Beats for Healing is the collaboration of Ricigliano Farms, Kent, and Birchwood Psychological Center of Breckenridge, Minnesota.

“Offering legitimate, equine assisted psychological help was a definite need for our area,” said Victor Ricigliano, Hoof Beats for Healing’s president. “We aren’t just a place where you come out to pet the horses. At Hoof Beats for Healing, licensed counselors and equine specialists join together to offer the highest level of care for all ages and we accept health insurance. For those who qualify, but can’t afford treatment, there are grants available.”

A client, Sophia Messerschmidt, is living proof that they are doing something right.

“It’s meant everything to our whole family, not just Sophia. Sophia is on the autism spectrum and that can sometimes offer challenges, but the equine therapy helped her develop social skills and allowed her to become the truest version of herself,” her mother Ariana said.

One of the therapists helping the Messerschmidt family is Ashley Thompson.

“We are seeing such a dire need for mental health services,” Thompson said. “With children especially, they take the hit. We need to be proactive and change that. People, young and old, tend to open up more when animals are around and that’s why equine assisted therapy is so successful. Trauma, abuse, anxiety and depression are all helped in an accelerated manner.”

Horses are very special animals because they actually become mirrors to the people that work with them, Victor Ricigliano explained.

“Horses have the innate ability to sense what a person is feeling and reflect that immediately back to them, be that anxiety, nervousness, calmness or fear,” he said.

With that type of instant feedback, it’s no surprise why equine assisted therapy is so effective.

Hoof Beats for Healing’s benefit will become an annual event. Organizers are hoping to reach both the equestrian and non-horse family.

Equine assisted therapy has a lot to offer the local community. It’s great to see a local group making a difference in so many people’s lives. To learn more about this organization, visit www.hoofbeatsforhealing.com.

Happy Trails!

LORI RICIGLIANO is a horse judge, trainer, riding instructor, equine photographer and clinician. She also hosts a weekly syndicated equine radio talk show “Hoof Beats with Lori”. Lori has held her horse judges license as a USEF / AHA — “R” rated licensed horse judge for more than 25 years and currently operates Ricigliano Farms Horse Training and Riding Academy near Kent, Minn. She can be reached by email or phone for any questions at 218- 557-8762 or riciglianofarms@gmail. com. Her website is www. RiciglianoFarms.com

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