From National Velvet to The Black Stallion, there are many stories about the bond between young adults and horses.
One local woman says there's good reason for such stories, and she's using the healing power of horses to help people right here in Eastern Iowa.
Smiles like these and sights like these make Marilyn Moore's work worthwhile.
"We can bring horses together with them and teach them how to get along with people in this world, and how to love," Moore said.
Moore believes in the healing power of horses. Since 1999, she has paired horses with children, teens and adults who have special challenges or disabilities. She calls her Waterloo-based organization "Aspire Therapeutic Riding Program."
"They go from barely touching the animal, to petting them, to being able to pick their hoofs. It teaches them about relationships," Moore said.
Today students from Bremwood Children's Home and School came to meet, pet, and bond with horses.
"I love horses. It's really a calming experience for me," 15-year-old Dakota Beckmann said. "The visit brings a chance to feel peaceful. My life is really chaotic, so it helps being around horses because it's a cool down. It's like stepping away from what I have to deal with daily."
The students also learn about respecting the animal, and in turn, gaining trust.
"I'm never going to turn down horses. It's my thing to be around them basically," student Tim Brendland said. Meeting the horses teaches him about being a good friend. "It's really fun having an animal to be around so you're not like, alone," he said.
Moore said, "We often say there's no therapy like it. They drop the walls. They're not defensive any longer. They can be themselves, their authentic selves."
Moore says she's living a dream by running her Aspire program, "I believe God has led me on this path, and he has opened doors. I think that my journey will continue," she said.
Moore looks forward to helping these majestic animals heal even more lives.
To keep the Aspire program alive, Moore is constantly fundraising.
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