Rescue Horse Used for Therapy

Cyndi Lundeberg

MICHIE, Tenn. - Ava is just one of twelve horses that were rescued from a home in Holladay in October 2012. Now, eight months later, Ava is living and working at Hillside New Beginnings.

Rachel Bailey, the founder of the center, says when Ava was first brought to her she was nearly 200 pounds underweight and close to dying. Now, she says Ava is thriving and participating in equine therapy and has a brand new personality.

"Ava is now being used to help those who have issues of abandonment, children who have been beaten or abused and she is just phenomenal in sessions!" she said.

Ava is one of the first horses to be working at Hillisde New Beginnings the only equine therapy center in West Tennessee. The process uses horses as a tool to mimic human emotions and takes traditional counseling sessions outdoors. Rachel Bailey says this type of therapy has a 66% success rate.

"Not every therapy works for everybody. Talk therapy doesn't always work. This is an alternative form of therapy we really wanna share," Rachel said.

Her husband, David, who also works at Hillside New Beginnings, had never been around horses until he met his wife, Rachel. Now, David says he's a believer in their ability to transform humans lives. "People tell horses things in the arena that they'll never tell their therapists," he said.

Rescued Ava just began working with children, and her specialty is dealing with those who have been bullied, beaten, or abused much like herself before being rescued. Rachel Bailey says she's such a believer in the process because she herself has used it.

"I lost a husband of 18 years to brain cancer and I remember the night of the funeral I went out to be with my horse, and I started to cry, and he sat down in the stall, and he came and sat there with me... seemed like forever. But he was just an amazing tool for me as I worked through the grieving process," she said.

The Bailey's say Ava's transformation from timid to triumphant is the same growth they see when working with humans.

"It's life changing because you see peoples lives change! And it makes you realize you're doing a good thing, and there's nothing wrong with doing a good thing," David Bailey said.

The Bailey's hope to continue their therapy and say the more people they help, the more horses they can save.


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