October 15, 2022
By Kathy Smith
Equine therapy has been in existence since the time of the ancient Greeks. It became more popular in the 1950s and 1960s. Many equine therapy organizations were established in the United States. Locally, our area is fortunate enough to have Horse Power serving the needs of kids between the ages of 6 and 18 with behavioral problems. These kids live in residential treatment centers. They receive all kinds of therapies at these centers.
In 2001, Torey Geiger and her husband Mike adopted a baby who had shaken baby syndrome. There were no behavioral health programs at the time that could assist the Geiger’s.
The Geiger’s have a special strength that helped them work tirelessly to create an organization that could not only help them with their baby but others who were experiencing the difficult task of raising a child who was behaviorally challenged.
Tory applied for grants and began the process of getting Horse Power off of the ground. In the beginning, Tory had a small herd of donkeys that her clients worked with. Eventually, she was able to move the program to larger stables.
On their website the organization defines exactly what they do, it is the following:
“The Horse Power Experimental Learning Program offers relational experiences to at-risk youth by developing life- coping skills in an equine facilitated ranch environment.”
In visiting with my friend Shannon Gammon, who is the director of Horse Power, I found out how the program helps kids. There are four classes with five students each. By working with horses, kids learn how to develop a relationship with a horse. They also learn to groom and how treat the horse. They are also responsible for cleaning the horses’ hooves. The relationship the kids develop with their horses helps in the healing process. Kids learn how to trust again through this therapy.
Horses are very feeling intuitive animals. They provide emotional support to kids who are in difficult situations.
Gammon invited me to attend one of the classes which are held at Rising Star Ranch. I saw for myself how the kids bonded with a horse. I noticed how the kids relaxed as they began learning about their horses. The horses responded to the kids as well. It was as if they knew the pain that some of these kids have been through in their young lives. The beautiful eyes of the horses looked at the kids as if to say, “I am here for you.” It was a beautiful experience.
Professional staff from the residential housing facilities the kids live in also attend the classes. Janna Cochran, who is a music therapist, was just a delight to meet. I commend the staff for wanting to help the kids.
These kids have all been traumatized in some way. Thanks to Gammon, the volunteers and especially Tory Geiger there is hope for these kids,