Organizations: Reins of Life
Equine therapy for children and adults.
Four years ago, Clint, who is on the autism spectrum, was 12 when his mother died of cancer.
Soon afterward, he showed up, traumatized and struggling with balance issues, at Reins of Life, a center for equine therapy near Eastanollee in Northeast Georgia.
“At first, he wasn’t coordinated and couldn’t express himself very well,” recalls Cheryl Harris, who founded the organization in 1995.
Then a horse named Betsy befriended him, and Clint began to open up.
“Now he rides independently without any prompting,” Harris says. “His next step will be to ride the trails in the woods. All he does is grin when he’s on horseback. It’s empowered him and given him the self-confidence to do better in school.”
Horses are uncannily attuned to human needs, she says. “I can take a client into the pasture, and a particular horse will sense what is going on and approach that person. It’s powerful to witness and hard to describe, and it still astounds me.”
Reins of Life works with children and adults, including domestic violence and addiction survivors.
Harris was a foster parent for 15 years and saw a need for her charges to develop a therapeutic skill. “We started with three horses in a rinky-dink arena,” she says, “but we quickly saw how effectively it worked.”
Today, the organization, which runs on grants and donations, employs an occupational therapist, an adaptive riding instructor, two counselors and two staffers who tend to 23 horses, along with 20 volunteers. It serves 400 clients a year from Stephens, Hart, Habersham, Banks and Franklin counties.
The group is seeking general donors as well as sponsors to select a horse and assist with its food and veterinary care.