Horse people will tell you that spending time around horses is just about the best therapy out there--no matter what ails you.
Darcy Woessner knows that well. In 2008, she founded Project Horse, an equine therapy organization that uses horses to help people struggling with everything from behavioral issues, to trauma, to substance abuse. She has found that horses help people work through their issues, build confidence, and regain control of their lives.
The organization works with people of all ages, and also offers programs specifically designed for couples, families, and groups.
Project Horse's mission statement reads:
"Project Horse connects people in need of renewed hope and confidence with rehabilitated rescue horses, through innovative experiential learning and therapy programs. The calming presence of horses, with their keen ability to sense and respond to the human condition, provides an ideal environment for healing and self-discovery. Project Horse is dedicated to improving the quality of life for both horses and humans, creating a unique community of mutual healing and benefit."
This past Monday, a group of autistic high school students at Virginia's Park View High School received a very special visit from miniature horse Fiona Fudge, one of Project Horse's Mobile Minis Team.
Miss Fudge made a grand entrance into the autism support classroom, resplendent in her pink hoof guards and flowered hair barrettes. At first, both Fiona and the students were nervous, but in no time, the students were all smiles and each wanted his or her chance to meet Fiona up close.
"To have the opportunity to have my two passions combined couldn't be any better."
Lauren Kloman, the students' teacher, noted how well her students responded to Fiona's presence.
"They're more confident [and] they work better as a team."
The Park View students aren't the only beneficiaries of Project Horse's life-changing equine therapy work. Project Horse's Mobile Minis Team travels around Virginia, bringing comfort and hope - in the form of miniature horses - to students in need, from those with social skills deficits, to those battling depression, and everything else imaginable.
The organization, which works with therapists and counselors, also offers a host of other programs and services, both therapeutic and non-therapeutic. Project Horse's programs are non-riding in nature.
Project Horse is located just west of Leesburg, Virginia. To find out more about the many programs and services it offers, check out the organization's official website.
Photos via Project Horse