By Lee Anne Denyer
HORSEPOWER Therapeutic Learning Center is located in High Point and works with people of all ages and abilities. The group has now partnered with the Guilford County Family Justice Center
The Guilford County Family Justice Center walks with area families through some of their hardest days. They support families faced with violence within the family.
Staff at the FJC help victims of violence cope with the trauma that comes from sexual, domestic and child assaults, while aggregating services into a single location and pushing to hold offenders accountable for their actions. They also work specifically with the children too often experiencing unsafe home environments
“(For) a lot of them, their home environment has not been safe. Their family has not been safe, learning what it means to feel safe in a relationship and in their environment is something that we talk about a lot.” said Hannah Mould, a Child Trauma Specialist Coordinator.
To help children impacted by violence, the center runs Pathways, a year-round mentoring program that is meant to build confidence, show support through activities, team building and a week of summer camp.
Recently, Pathways introduced a new program: therapeutic riding. They partnered with HORSEPOWER Therapeutic Learning Center for six weeks of programming for kids ages 12 to 15.
“They absorb your pain,” said executive director Jan Clifford, from the High Point facility. “They are so big-hearted that they want to help you recover, they want to help you feel better. Horses do amazing things.”
Clifford started helping people – young and old – find comfort and healing in the stalls of the center more than 25 years ago.
“It’s sustaining. It sustains my soul,” she said.
Children who are a part of the Family Justice Center’s Pathway program recently became the first group to take part in programming at HORSEPOWER. The hope is that through working with the horses they will not only find a safe place to relax, but build confidence, leadership and learn to talk through complex feelings from fear to trust and beyond.
“I think it’s really powerful to see these kids interact with an animal like a horse,” Mould said. “What we know about trauma is a lot of times it can cause you to feel unsafe in your everyday life.”
For Mould, she said, watching the kids build trust and deeper relationships with the animals and watching the horses build trust and relationships with their riders has been a powerful process to be a part of.
According to Clifford, the horses can feel that and help people work through that pain whether it be mental, emotional or physical.
“When you have pain that you’re hiding, pain of any sort, the horses know that. They can tune into what you’re feeling, she said.
Clifford said she feels so fortunate to be able to help guide visitors to HORSEPOWER through that healing.
“I don’t control this. I’m blessed to be part of it,” she said. “It’s not me. I didn’t do all these things. Sure, I went out and dug the ditches and built the barn and raised the money, but this is a community, a family organization. Everyone that comes out here is part of a huge family.”
Clifford said visitors are welcome to take a tour of the riding facility and that they are always looking for volunteers. She said prior experience with horses is not required.