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Communities that KARE: Hoofbeats for Healing

Hoof Beats for Healing is changing lives with the love and care of horses. It’s a unique model for outreach.

WOLVERTON, Minn. — Communities that KARE is celebrating "Hoof Beats for Healing," based in Wolverton, Minnesota.

The nonprofit is changing lives with the love and care of horses. It’s a unique model for outreach.

“They open up around the horses. The horses make them talk,” said Victor Ricigliano.

Victor and his wife Lori work with mental health professionals to provide equine assisted psychotherapy to treat things from anxiety and PTSD to cerebral palsy.

“We can connect that anxiety that you’re feeling on that horse to how you feel on a daily basis,” said DeNae Haagenson. She’s a mental health therapist and equine assisted mental health therapist.

There’s a lot of groundwork that includes mindfulness and simply connecting with the horse.

“Whatever the person who is coming in is feeling, it is mirrored in the horse; because if you're calm, you can really see it in the horse,” said Haagenson.

That’s why there’s an equine specialist monitoring the horse’s responses.

Some of them are also coming from traumatic circumstances.

Ricigliano explained, “We go by the theory: recycle, reuse, rehome. Each year, we try and pick up one horse that's been abandoned and give it a better life."

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And these horses are giving children a chance to change their lives.

"If you're confident and you're leading a horse which is like 1,600 pounds, imagine what you can do on a daily basis," said Haagenson.

Hoof Beats for Healing can accept most insurance, and offers financial assistance to those in need.

However, the nonprofit needs help raising money to insulate their indoor arena - to keep the facility and help kids year round.

For more information about Hoof Beats for Healing, visit www.hoofbeatsforhealing.org.

Communities that KARE is sponsored by Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union.