Horses for Healing was established as Rocky Creek Horses Help in 1991 when a pilot project was launched to provide therapeutic riding for a group of 15 children with special needs from the Rogers, Arkansas school district. Tremendous growth and success followed!
Horses for Healing became the first therapeutic riding center in Arkansas to become a Premier Accredited Center through NARHA, now PATH International (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship), and became one of only two accredited facilities in Arkansas.
In order to serve more children, we moved to a larger facility in nearby Bentonville in 2004. Changing the name from Rocky Creek Horses Help to Horses for Healing, Inc. shortly after the move gave the organization a clearer brand in the community with defined mission.
Between our program for local school districts and small group lessons, Horses for Healing served hundreds of children with special needs each year. We have been privileged to witness so many firsts: first words, first steps, and first smiles.
Our growth was dramatic, and we had every reason to expect that growth to continue. Then, 2020 came. The COVID pandemic put an immediate stop to all programs. Within a few weeks, we re-opened with stringent new sanitation measures and teaching 1-on-1 lessons for children whose parents felt that the emotional benefits of working with horses outweighed the risks.
It was a challenging two years, but through the hard work and dedication of our staff, volunteers, and boarders, we made it through. In the summer of 2022, we began to reassess our future. We recognized that the world had changed, and the predominant issues affecting children had changed along with it. We were flooded with requests to help children dealing with stress, trauma, social anxiety, and depression. We began to reimagine our future.
In the fall of 2022, we are running the pilot course of our new Equine Assisted Learning program. We have many more exciting plans for ways to reach children dealing with emotional trauma in all its many forms. We have come a long way in over 30 years, but know that there is so much still left to be done. There are an estimated 10,000 children with special needs in Northwest Arkansas and Horses for Healing remains committed to serving as many as possible.
None of this would have been possible without the vision, dedication and ongoing support of Harriette Habern, founder of Horses for Healing. A retired special education teacher and longtime horsewoman, Harriette dreamed of helping children thru the healing power of horses. Her dream is as alive today as it was three decades ago.