“Just” a [therapy] horse…

It only took a few minutes into my first day at HALTER for me to realize how powerful and effective natural horsemanship techniques can be if done correctly. How many of us have found ourselves intimidated (or even hurt?!?!) by an aggressive horse at feeding time? This is a video of our feeding routine at HALTER. Each horse has its own feeding pen with grain waiting inside, but each horse must remain calm, connected, and responsive in order to be “released”. This routine is NOT about auto pilot. This is all about connection and communication. And I think it’s incredible, even with its imperfections.

I think this video shows several things:

  1. Just because a horse is a therapy horse does NOT mean they are horses that have been “put out to pasture” and have reached their peak.
  2. If we want to achieve incredible things (or even ordinary things well) with ordinary horses, as ordinary people, we can.  But we need to build the language first. My horse is nowhere close to this “literate” – she’s like Reece and Red, our new guys. But she will get there. Words can’t be written without the alphabet!
  3. Natural horsemanship WORKS. It works for my high-spirited, highly sensitive, aggressive, redheaded MARE just as well as it does for the twelve geldings we have at HALTER, from spunky ponies to our heavy haflinger and our tall, lanky thoroughbred and every kind of horse in between.
  4. Natural horsemanship – and our horses! have the ability to empower. Using natural horsemanship techniques, the students’ connections with their horses are amazing and the level of communication that can be achieved gives huge benefits to our riders, from on the ground to in the saddle and back into their everyday lives. Lives are changed here!
  5. The volunteers benefit, too! My horsemanship has skyrocketed since I’ve been with HALTER, and I knew nothing about natural horsemanship when I began. We are ALWAYS looking for new volunteers, and cool moments like this are just one of many amazing skills one can learn from volunteering with us! PLEASE visit our website and contact us for information about volunteering here. Absolutely NO horse experience required – I promise. (We can also use you for important non-horse jobs if you’d rather not touch one).


I’d like to invite you to our “Horsing with HALTER” event on August 22nd. We’ll have live music, BBQ, dancing, a silent and live auction, and plenty of inspiring stories to tell! Even if you know nothing about our organization, it is a wonderful event that benefits some amazing riders and we’d love to have you with us! Tickets can be bought at the HALTER website (see #5, above). Don’t miss what’s been called the “party of the year” in Spartanburg!

Let’s connect! What is one thing you’d love to be able to do at liberty with your horse? (personally, I’d love to be able to trailer load at liberty) Tell me about it in the comments below!


Published by

Sarah Madden

A PR and Marketing Coordinator at Tryon International Equestrian Center, I graduated from Wofford College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in both English and environmental studies. I'm a Wofford College Equestrian Team alumna, a PATH Int'l Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor, and my spare time, enjoy trail riding my American Saddlebred mare, Dancer. Oh, and I've got an awesome three-legged dog for a roommate.

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