This week’s honoree: Equine Partners Unlimited.
Each Friday Horse Nation teams up with Ovation Riding to spotlight an individual or organization that is doing good work in the horse world. This week we salute Equine Partners Unlimited.
Located in Grove City, Ohio, Equine Partners Unlimited describes itself as “a welcoming place of healing and hope for horses and humans.” Its mission is twofold: Not only is it a horse rescue, it also a center for equine assisted therapy.
The mission of Equine Partners Unlimited, Inc. is to provide Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) and Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) to people in Central Ohio. We use these services to empower people in our community with the tools of communication, respect, and confidence that will help them succeed in relationships and in life. Our work in the rescue and rehoming of at-risk horses promotes empathy, respect for all life, and meaningful connections within the hearts of the clients and volunteers who interact with them.
Executive Director Mandy Schreiber kindly took the time to answer a few of our questions about the program.
What is the story behind Equine Partners Unlimited? When was it founded?
Equine Partners Unlimited, Inc. started as a small non-profit therapy program 10 years ago. My work as a riding instructor had shown me the tremendous positive changes that happen in kids when they have horses in their lives, and I became interested in the therapeutic aspect of horsemanship. My mom, Marty, had been a social worker for 20 years. She and I began attending trainings together to learn more about how to use the relationship with horses to help teach at-risk kids life skills such as anger management, self awareness, communication, leadership and creative problem solving.
We started the program with just the two of us, a couple of horses, and a few volunteers. As we reached out to help more kids, more people came on board and helped us revise and expand our dream. Over the years we brought horses in as therapy partners whose riding careers were over but had lots of love left to give, and we saw them blossom with new purpose and a very special job.
Who are the horses of Equine Partners Unlimited? Who are the people?
Since the work we do requires the horses simply being themselves, as the majority of our work is comprised of ground work and special on-the-ground activities, it is a natural fit for horses who aren’t suitable for riding due to age or old injuries. Well, the universe kept sending horses in need of rescue our way, so we decided to make rescue work an official part of our program. And once we opened the doors to rescue and adoption work, we were blessed with an influx of horse loving volunteers who wanted to be a part of rehabbing and rehoming beautiful animals who needed a safe place to go.
One thing that is unique about Equine Partners Unlimited is that it’s not just horses helping people, or people helping horses — it’s both. How does that relationship work?
The synergy is amazing. Clients and volunteers alike connect on a very deep level with the horses who come from background of abuse or neglect, or who have been discarded by an industry that no longer wants them. Being a part of the healing process for these beautiful creatures facilitates healing in the people who care for them, as well. From the race horse who is no longer winning, to the pony with COPD, to the days old nurse mare foal who has been taken from its mother and cast aside — they ALL are special, they all deserve happiness and love, and each one of their lives is precious. And for a person coming from a background of low self esteem, or abuse, or any circumstance that has made them feel different or broken, seeing the confidence and beauty that emerges from the horses as they start their healing journey often inspires people to believe that they, too can heal — and that their own stories, though challenging and sometimes heart breaking, are not yet finished.
Our motto is “Release the past, embrace the present, discover the future.” That holds true for horses and people. Our pasts don’t have to define us. And horses are very good at teaching us how to live in and enjoy the moment. They reflect back to us what is truly going on inside of us. You can’t fool a horse. They bring a unique awareness of our inner selves, which is why working with them is such a therapeutic and often profound experience. Not only our clients, but also our volunteers often credit their work with the horses as changing their lives and helping them overcome the fear and doubt of the past. It’s truly a privilege to witness the emotional growth and blossoming self confidence in our teen volunteers. Having this farm, this community, gives them a safe place to grow and thrive, and gives them a support network that is as healing as it is unique.
We’ve grown to encompass a dedicated staff of people from various walks of life, and a group of 40+ volunteers who come out, rain or shine, every day of the year to care for the horses. We celebrate when one of our rescues finds their human soul mate and forever home. We often cry when a horse comes to us, broken down and mistreated or starved. We do everything in our power to give them peace and comfort, to bring them back to health, and to show them that life can be good again. Most of the rescues come in with the intent to adopt them out to good homes, but some come for life long sanctuary and a new job as therapy horses.
How can people help support EPU?
We are able to do what we do with the support of volunteers, and with donations of supplies and money to help defray the expenses. Our boarding program helps pay the bills, but because we do take in many “special needs” horses, we’re always in need of donations to help cover feed, veterinary care, farrier and dental work, and other horse keeping expenses. Anyone wishing to donate can do so via our paypal account at [email protected].
Many thanks thanks to Ovation Riding for their support of both Horse Nation and individuals and organizations that are doing good work in the horse world. If you know someone who deserves a Standing Ovation, we would love to recognize them in a future post. Email the name of the person or organization along with a message about the good work they do to [email protected]. Photos/videos are always welcome, and include a link to their website if applicable.