The Way This Horse Therapy Ranch Heals Traumatized Kids Will Bring Tears to Your Eyes

When Deluxe Corporation launched the Small Business Revolution in 2015 as an entrepreneurial movement, they sent a documentary team across the country to capture and share the stories of small businesses – and their fantastic owners – as the best representations of the American entrepreneurial spirit. These are their stories:

Spirit Reins: A Small Business Revolution Mini-Documentary from Small Business Revolution on Vimeo

When traditional talk therapy hasn’t worked for the troubled or abused kids that arrive at this Texas equine ranch, Spirit Reins therapists introduce them to these horses as a new kind of relationship they can trust. “The kids we work with come from hard places” says ranch owner Rhonda Smith, who left corporate America after a near-fatal automobile accident changed her perspective on life. “Those kids need an opportunity to build relationships, and horses are honest with them.”

That honesty often comes from a shared place of trauma. “When the kids first get here, one of their first experiences is going to choose a horse,” Smith says. “They go out to the big herd and we tell them the stories of the horses out there. We’re using those stories that the horses have to help them find themselves in the stories of the horses so they know they’re not alone.”

“Horses thrive off relationships. They’re meant to be heard animals, just like humans,” says program director Tim Jobe. “A kid who’s been through trauma is like a horse. He’s going to be at his worst when he’s off by himself. It’s not the relationship with the horse that they need. That’s the one that’s going to help them find the relationships they need.”​


This originally appears on

Leave a Comment