Located at a Morongo Valley ranch that shares its name, the nonprofit Five Hearts Healing Arts Foundation generates and disburses funding for the provision of equine facilitated psychotherapy and equine facilitated learning for people who might not otherwise be able to participate.

According to founder and executive director Gail Hromadko, “The fire for our work comes from those we help at Five Hearts Healing Arts. With a trained stable of six therapy horses and the additional rescue horses we rehabilitate, we have a full barn of horse therapists. They help people age 12 to 80 with issues like depression, anxiety, chemical dependency, codependency, and life transitions.”

The foundation’s most recently developed program, Greenbroke Healers, started its third 10-week series on March 11. “Greenbroke Healers is a uniquely effective model of healing trauma and related issues by pairing at risk youth with rescue horses,” Hromadko continues. “The horses have endured abusive or neglectful situations, and are often surrendered by owners who cannot handle them or afford to feed them.”

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After being screened for safety, horses are assessed for physical, mental and emotional needs. They begin a program of proper feeding, foot care, dental care, etc. They free range on eight acres, which for most of them, is more freedom than they have known in their lives.

The teens’ stories are not all that different! “Many come from abusive, neglectful, financially stressed or chemically dependent homes,”Hromadko explains, “often with single parents. They are struggling in school, social relationships, and life.” The teens participate in group therapy, art therapy, and most significantly — in equine facilitated learning. “Simply put,” she says, “that means they learn about horses and natural horsemanship, a noncoercive training method that teaches the teens to communicate in horse language. It is a highly collaborative process. This is our goal with our teen participants as well.”

Horses come to trust humans as “good people,” often for the first time. The teens excel as well. They develop effectiveness, confidence, compassion, patience, the ability to listen, limit setting, and relationship skills. They experience general stress relief and have fun.

“Thanks to our incredible donors who gave us a jump start,” she adds, “and grants from the Grade Helen Spearman Charitable Foundation, the Walmart Community Foundation, and other corporate sponsors, we’re already accomplishing great things.”

For more information or to donate, please visit the Five Hearts Healing Arts website at www.5Hearts.org or call 760-323-2524.