September 4, 2013 | LXXIII, No. 23

Horse rescuers work for double benefit

Matching horses with kids, both can benefit

Remy, Snickers and Baby are ready to help some kids.

Heather Downs and Chris Holman are shown with Remy, one of The Nourishing Hand’s rescued horses. The group is trying to connect kids with horses in a therapeutic program out of its operation in Delano.

The three horses, rescued from mistreatment, will help kick off a new program to help kids in the area.

Chris Holman, president of The Nourishing Hand, an equine rescue group, takes mistreated or neglected horses and uses them in a therapeutic program that helps both the animals and kids at the same time.

The group contacted school officials and board members recently to explain how caring for an animal was good therapy for special needs students and others to help them take hold of something that was both demanding and rewarding, and very personal.

Remy, 20; Snickers, 34; and Baby, 13; were all rescued through the Okanogan County Sheriff’s Office and the courts.

The animal mistreatments could and do include lack of feeding, general care, and cruelty.

When sheriff’s officers come on to these types of issues, the case goes to the court system, where it is determined if the present owner can become better at taking care of the animals.

The Nourishing Hand can take over here and work with the owner to teach them how to take proper care of their horse or horses.

In extreme cases, where there is no hope of this happening, the court awards the horse to The Nourishing Hand, and that’s where Holman and his chief assistant, Heather Downs, come in.

Kids come in and get acquainted with the horses and bond with an animal. Then it is up them, with proper guidance and instruction, to help care for the horse.

This includes feeding, brushing, riding, and general care.

The horses learn how to trust humans again, and the kids gain confidence in themselves.

A perfect result, says Holman.

Downs made the presentation to the school board and was met with enthusiasm.

“It’s another way that kids can learn from something outside the box or normal teaching methods,” Holman says.

Just how well it takes off depends on how quickly the schools jump in and match up kids and the horses.

The setting is in Delano, at 58070 Spokane Boulevard, the current site of the old Green Hut building.

The Green Hut was a famous restaurant in Coulee Dam’s early days and a portion of the restaurant was moved to a site in Delano.

Holman and Downs, with the help of some local people impressed with the possibilities, built a small corral on the property.

Jess Ford provides hay for the horses; North Cascades Bank has provided some cash for incidental expenses, and KEYG Radio has supplied the posts used to build the corral.

Holman noted that he plans to take courses at Washington State University to become a licensed horse therapist, a modern day “horse whisperer” type.

In addition to all the time Holman spends with horses and getting this program underway, he also is a full time employee at Safeway. Downs, who has four children, also provides countless hours with the horses.

Founder of the rescue club, Janice Andrews, some five years ago, has a ranch where she provides some shelter for the rescued horses in Oroville.

Now it is up to the kids and horses to get the program doing its therapeutic work.

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