BONNEVILLE COUNTY, Idaho (KXPI) - It's called equine therapy - therapy, using horses. Eyewitness New 3 anchor Todd Kunz wanted to find out what the organization called Unbridled Hope Inc. can treat, and how it works. Plus, to Pay It Forward.
Unbridled Hope is listed as a mental health service, but it's much more than that.
"You use muscles riding horses that you never knew you had," said owner Joanna Berg.
Equine therapy can help treat many different challenges. Berg founded Unbridled Hope Inc. in 2019 after going through some of her own rough patches and finding the healing the process herself through one of her first horses.
"Personally experienced through that grief, the healing that he would give, so it wasn't anymore just me giving, I actually received back with him. So he was the motivation for me to start the program here," said Berg.
And it has grown from there. Berg said they actually have a waiting list.
"My youngest that I treat is three. The oldest is 84," said Berg.
One of those clients is the son of Kerri Hansen. He has been engaged in the program for about two years, to help overcome high functioning autism. She said it has been the single best thing they have done for him.
"It's been neat, because he doesn't really bond with people necessarily, outside of family, but with the horses, he immediately connected with them and it's taught him so much of how to interact with people and his ability to feel those emotions off of people and things like that. It's just been amazing," said Hansen.
Other clients are seeing some of the same success.
"She (another client) was born with cerebral palsy and she has a walker. She personally comes and does the program with us. And she has been able to walk better because of the movement of the horse and she's able to get more of that core strength with the movement. We pick specific horses for specific types of movements," said Berg.
So it's not just riding a horse. It has purpose.
"It's not just sitting up there on a horse. You are actively engaged," said Berg, holding the reins.
Time to actively get engaged and Pay It Forward.
"Joanna, how are you?" said a man walking into the arena.
"I am well. How are you?" asked Berg.
"Good. Can I interrupt you for just a second?" asked the man.
"Absolutely," replied Berg.
"So my name is Kory (Carling) and I'm with Mountain America Credit Union," said the man.
"Yes," said Berg.
"And we've heard about all that you're doing for our community," said Carling.
"Yeah," said Berg.
"For all the success you're having. And so I'm here today to Pay It Forward. So I've brought with me today, $500 in cash," said Carling, pulling money from an envelope.
"Oh, my gosh!" said Berg.
"That I know that you can use to continue to impact the lives of young people in our community," continued Carling.
"I had no idea," said Berg.
"So on behalf of Mountain America Credit Union, we'd like to Pay It Forward for all that you've done for our community," said Carling.
"I so want to hug you right now. Thank you! Thank you so much!" said Berg.
"You are more than welcome. Thank you for all that you're doing," said Carling.
"Oh, my gosh," said Berg.
"This is awesome," said Carling.
"Thank you!" said Berg.
"To come out here and see you in action. We appreciate you giving back to the community," said Carling.
"Very humbling. Very, very humbling. Thank you," said Berg.
"Awesome," said Carling.
"I just love what I do, so it's really easy to do."
Berg is a licensed clinical social worker and has been for more than 20 years. Unbridled Hope Inc. is a credentialed nonprofit. It has to meet high expectations with all the equipment like the saddles, bridles, helmets, and ADA accessible mounting ramps. The organization is searching for another counselor or occupational therapist. And they are always needing volunteers. The phone number is 208-521-9946.
"Pay It Forward" airs the second Wednesday of every month. If you know of a nonprofit organization or someone who deserves to be recognized for their contributions to the area, click on "News" then "Pay It Forward" under the menu stack at the top left of our homepage. Fill out the submission form, or send an email to Eyewitness News 3 anchor Todd Kunz at firstname.lastname@example.org.