Classes begin with grooming and groundwork. Groundwork is an intense communication that helps establish the participant as the leader. These activities create a bond of trust between horse and human, teaching the horse to rely on the participant for instruction and safety. An improved focus develops for both the human and the horse, as the participant is able to communicate with greater sensitivity and patience. This can be an important skill, especially for those suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). During these activities, the horse helps the participant learn to recognize and manage their feelings; to live in the present, rather than remaining in fear, pain, anger and other difficult emotions. An increase in trust, confidence and self esteem will be evident as the participant cultivates a relationship with the horse.
For those with physical challenges, equine assisted therapy offers outdoor exercise that helps build overall strength. An increase in core strength greatly improves gait, flexibility and physical balance. When riding, the human body's reaction to a horse's gait is the same as it would be if the person were actually walking themselves. This motion is highly beneficial to the human, as it increases brain activity, muscle activity and strength, and oxygen distribution.
The weekly classes will be adjusted to best support the participant's specific needs and progress. The individual will develop an improved relationship with the horse through their grooming, groundwork and mounted (if they choose) time together. Upon completion of their first 8-week session, participants are invited to come to a 2nd session to continue their journey and new-found relationship with the horse.
Previous experience with horses is not necessary to benefit from this program. For many of our participants, this is their first exposure to horses. All you need is a sense of humor and a sense of wonder for what these magnificent animals can provide to the human soul.
Horses' Birthday PartyWe like to celebrate and honor all the horses! They deserve birthday apples and carrots.
Rodeo de Santa FeCome volunteer as an usher, ticket taker, program seller....It takes a village to pull off this amazing 4-day extravaganza and we're proud to lend as many hands as possible.
Exceptional Kids RodeoFree and open to the public, come on out and participate in this wonderful event. PRCA cowboys are among the many volunteers on hand to make this a special day for everyone!
Yard SaleAnnually, we have a ginormous sale to raise money for Listening Horse on the grounds of the Rodeo de Santa Fe. Contact us to donate items and come to the sale to find extraordinary treasures!
Community Day at the Eldorado StablesCome on out for a pony ride! The stables hold a community day to share their facility and meet the horses from 10am-1pm. Listening Horse is happy to be a part of this event by offering pony rides for kids.
KRQE 13 This Morning at 7amGus and Kathy talk about Listening Horse and the benefits of connecting with a horse in an equine-assisted therapy setting.
Homeless Veterans & Non-Veterans Stand DownListening Horse volunteers support this annual event by giving pony rides and information to the community. It's held at the Advent Life Church near SFCC, 8am-3pm
Veterans Day ParadeCome out and show support to those who have sacrificed so much for our country! Listening Horse volunteers, participants and therapy horses enjoy riding and walking in the annual parade. Gathering on Murales Rd. behind Ft. Marcy. Parade begins at 10am & travels around the plaza.
Joe's Dining FundraiserEat at Joe's on Dec 2nd! They are generously donating 20% of each meal & 20% of artwork sold this day to Listening Horse. Come join us for some holiday cheer & support our equine-assisted therapy program & Joe's Dining!
Team of Horses
ZorroZorro is a goofy guy. He's the king of doing off-the-wall, funny things and is great at opening latches with his nose. Beginning in 2010, Zorro has worked tirelessly as an equine therapist and loves giving and getting human attention. If you look at him closely, you can see why he's a Palomino Paint.
ShalomarAs a youngster, he showed in dressage and jumped. After working in search and rescue for 5 years, he served with pride as a mounted police horse the last 15 years of his professional life. Shalomar is very quiet, patient, and loves to please his rider. We're so lucky to have both him and his mom on our team.
MagicMagic is a huge and beautiful, fleabitten grey, quarter horse. Born in 1999, he's lead a very chill life and loves to connect with humans. Though he's not in any hurry to move quickly, he's always watching for the food to come his way. He's been lending his skills as an equine therapist since 2013.
BrushBrush was born in 2002 and started his equine-assisted therapy career in 2016. Gentle and loving, Brush is very chill and loves connecting with people. His good looks and temperament bring him lots of attention from his herd friends and humans alike.
TuckerHe began his therapy work in the spring of 2016. Tucker already has a long list of folks he has served at Listening Horse. He also does Search and Rescue for the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Posse and if anyone can handle all this important and hard work, it's Tucker. He's loved by all.
PromiseShe is full of personality and connects beautifully with those who show her their honest side. Though we don't know her exact age, we believe she was born in 1992 and has been a therapy horse since the beginning, in 2010. Currently the sole mare of the heard, she knows really well how to get along with others.
DocDoc leads the herd through subtle body position and eye contact. Doc's as gentle as they come and a birthday celebration marking his 30th will be happening in 2018. He's shown the ropes to newer therapy horses and there's no one better to learn from than Doc. He's truly a star!
DiegoDiego is a gorgeous mustang gelding, born in 2006. At six months old, he was rounded up with a wild herd of mustangs in Nevada and taken to California. Life only got better from there. He was bought at auction for $125 by a young girl who saved her chore money. She took her wild mustang and trained him by herself.
"...I love Listening Horse and can't wait to start riding again. I feel so relaxed and calm with Zorro. He has taught me so many things in a way not imagined. The volunteers are astonishing and they know what they're doing. They have many different was to teach things and I think that's great because people have different ways of learning. My experiences so far have been magnificent and I hope many more people join and see what I'm talking about." Pricilla Guillen
"The Horses for Heroes (now PATH Intl. Equine Services for Heroes) program at Listening Horse is the best thing to happen to me since I got out of the military. It has taught me a lot of new things and helped me to try and become a better person. It has helped me handle my PTSD and my physical disabilities. It is a great experience to get to work with the horses and to connect to them." J. G., US Army Veteran, Iraq War
"The story of Promise makes me appreciate her more, makes me love her. She bends her head down toward me as I’m brushing her. She nuzzles my waist and I tense up at the prospect of being bitten. But I don’t shy away. “I’m not going to hurt you, old girl,” I murmur. Is she convinced? It’s hard to say, but she doesn’t bite–just nibbles the edge of my coat with her lips and goes back to standing still in the sun. Then, brushing her warm flanks, I see her lick her lips. I see her mouth and chin tremble, quiver slightly, like the face of a child about to cry. For some reason, the sight of this moves me unexpectedly. I turn away from Gus to hide my sudden emotion, my tears. Promise trust me. In the moment she inhabits, breathing easily with her eyes closed, I am not a threat to her. I am not a threat to her, and the world is not a threat to me. I am safe. I am not going to die. At the edge of the arena is a tree and some shade. The sun has risen and the air is warming. I feel like I can sleep beneath the tree for a while, stretched out there with Promise close by. I feel like I can lie down and find dreams of snowcapped mountains and green pastures and blue skies again, before the world was broken." Alex E. Limkin
Supporters & Donors
Veterinary care, operating location, feed and advertising are just a few of the ways in which supporters of Listening Horse help to keep our program alive. Our mission includes keeping our program free to participants and operating exclusively through the dedication of talented volunteers. All the support and various forms of donations we receive from the community are met with great gratitude and thanks!
Team of Humans
Listening Horse was started in 2010 by three military veterans. Throughout their lives, each individual experienced the emotional and physical benefits of bonding with and learning to trust a horse. They believed other people could experience similar benefits by developing a soulful connection with equines, particularly folks in the military community. Years later, Listening Horse continues to work closely with veterans, active military and their families, in addition to welcoming people of all ages who face special, life challenges.
Run by an incredibly dedicated group of volunteers, we always welcome the helping hands of others. Many of our volunteers are veterans. Some volunteers have a life time of horse experience. However, it's not necessary to have ever worked with horses in order to get involved just a desire to lend a hand and let a horse change your life.
Gus received his certification as an equine-assisted therapeutic riding instructor in 2002 from the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH Intl.), the premier organization that trains, certifies, and monitors equineassisted therapy programs internationally. He is also certified in CPR and first aid. He has over 50 years of horse experience and 17 years as an equine-assisted therapy instructor. Gus is an active member of the American Legion and Vietnam Veterans of America. As a former range technician with the Bureau of Land Management, Gus led staff and volunteer groups on horseback into wilderness areas of the Colorado Rockies, as well as teaching horse safety classes for BLM in Albuquerque and Canon City, Co.
David has over 20 years of horse experience including two years as a therapeutic riding instructor. He was co-owner of a successful commercial contracting business in Santa Fe for six years before becoming a full time Real Estate Broker. He is currently co-owner of Mead & Von Eschen Group Realty in Santa Fe, NM.
Laurie is a former Santa Fe business woman with a background in retail management, marketing, and special events planning. She joined Listening Horse in 2010 as volunteer coordinator and immediately devoted herself to learning how to ride, working with horses and with riders with special needs. She is currently the Communications Director and a Listening Horse instructor.
Sue became involved with Listening Horse during the first American Endurance Ride Conference (AERC) endurance ride fundraiser and is new to the board. She has been around horses her whole life, not generally as a rider, but in a support role for her riding family. Sue is looking forward to working with the instructors at Listening Horse and learning all that is involved with Therapeutic Horsemanship. Sue currently works at PNM.