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• • • the healing sanctuary | they in turn provide relief and release to those who come to ride. “The Woodlands is quickly becoming an affluent, high-end community, and along with that comes additional stress and the pressure to maintain the illusion of perfection,” says Donna Stedman, whose focused vision has made Henry’s Home a reality. “For the 50 to 75 women who regularly come out to ride and/ or care for the horses, Henry’s Home is an oasis of simplicity and honesty. “They tell me, ‘Finally, a place I can really relax and be myself; be real for awhile in an unrealistic world.’ Here, women dwell in nature awhile, meet other volunteers and become part of a tight-knit group, before returning to their own busy lives juggling homes, families and jobs.”

many of the people who come to ride are women who want to drop the mask of perfection for awhile, feel the wind in their hair, get dirty, and be judged by no one but a horse. “WE ALL NEED THIS PLACE.” The benefits of equine therapy are well documented and known to help people with a wide variety of physical, mental and emotional issues. There are many programs targeted to specific issues; equine therapy has been used with children and adults in the treatment of depression, autism, Alzheimer’s, developmental delays, behavioral issues, motor impairment, physical rehabilitation from injury or disability, PTSD recovery and much more. Horses are very attuned to human emotions, which may explain the special horsehuman bond that promotes healing from so many ills. And at Henry’s Home, the healing goes both ways. The horses need us riding and grooming them as much as we need them. “We started out planning to focus on providing an outlet for women, but our circle continues to grow wider,” says Donna. “We have veterans with PTSD coming out to ride now, and they find it really therapeutic. Horses can be the saving grace for so many people in so many circumstances, but at the end of the day, Henry’s Home seeks to be a place for everyday people to get out of their everyday lives and let go for awhile. “The truth is, we all need this place,” she concludes. “And the horses need us.”

MODEST DIGS; PASSIONATE VISION Currently, Henry’s Home is modest, but there are big plans in the works. In the small paddock that is their current space, the herd of seven rehabilitated horses is at maximum capacity. Many of the people who initially come to ride get hooked on the horses and become regular volunteers who care for the horses and accompany newcomers on trail rides. Trail rides in the current location take one through as-yet undeveloped areas a little off the beaten Woodlands path, as well as past cul de sacs of subdivisions, where residents are used to seeing a few suburban cow pokes meandering past and raise a hand in greeting. Donna’s plans for Henry’s Home are ambitious and impressive. Fulfilling them will benefit all of Houston and particularly The Woodlands. Henry’s Home is a tax-exempt non-proft organization run by volunteers, so it will require corporate grants, individual donations, community fund-raisers and more. Donna’s driving passion fuels her faith that the funding and the land needed to make the vision a reality will come. “When a community gets behind a dream, it becomes everybody’s reality,” she says. “Corporations, groups and individuals throughout The Woodlands and Houston will help build this center because it will help them. It will truly be a sanctuary for humans and horses.” While donations and grants will be neces-


sary to make the vision possible, the sanctuary will be self-sustaining after a couple of years. “Right now, I have to say ‘No’ more often than I can say ‘Yes,’ when someone calls about placing a horse in danger,” she says regretfully. “Until we have more land, I can’t take in more horses.” Nationally, up to 150,000 horses are shipped to other countries for slaughter each year, and others are confiscated from abusive owners or surrendered by owners who can no longer care for them. There will be no shortage of contenders for a place at Henry’s Home. HAVEN FOR HORSES AND HUMANS Picture, if you will, several hundred acres of property in the vicinity of The Woodlands serving as a sanctuary and rehabilitation center for up to 100 horses each year, working to match horses with adoptive homes when appropriate. The property will feature a community retreat center for corporate retreats, workshops and individual use, key to the sanctuary to become financially self-sustaining. Most importantly, the expanded space will allow more humans and horses to bond and gallop (or cantor) together along beautifully wooded trails. “Within the year, with the help of local



i-am magazine July/August 2015 DISTINCTIONS  

A better living publication for The Woodlands, TX

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