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'It’s been such a bright light for us' | Farm offering horse-assisted therapy

Shining Hope Farms uses horse therapy to help people in more ways than one.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Horseback riding takes patience and skill, but it can also provide much-needed healing. Leaders at Shining Hope Farms said they're seeing an increase in people seeking mental health services amid the pandemic.

“Were getting calls across the board and were getting requests for mental health services," Patrice Gibson, director of development at Shining Hope Farms, said. 

Gibson said the horses can help. 

“It might be outside of the traditional mental health," Gibson said. "What we provide is so different and unique."

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Shining Hope Farms uses horse therapy to help people in more ways than one. 

“Just being around the horse can have a calming effect," Gibson said.

It's a place where you can let your guard down. 

“That trauma, that pain, that exposure becomes a part of who you are," army veteran Kelly Little said. 

For Little, horse therapy brings him hope. He said the horses are miracle animals. 

“We are so blessed to see miracles every day," Gibson said.

Taylor Shanks, 5, has a rare disease. Gibson said one of the best ways to teach her to walk is to let her ride a horse. 

“It teaches their brain what it feels like to walk so then as they progress through therapy, it's more beneficial because as they try to get them to walk, their brain says, 'Oh wait I’ve felt this before, I think I can do this,'" Gibson said. 

“When we first started, she was crawling but not walking at all, except holding hands, and within a couple of months she started her first independent steps,” Taylor Shanks' mother, Amanda Shanks added.   

Shining Hope Farms is giving hope to those who need help.

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“Shining Hope Farms has really just been such a blessing to our family, I’m going to cry… it’s been such a bright light for us," Shanks said. 

This year is Shining Hope Farms' 20th Anniversary, and they recently opened a third location in Catawba County. 

Contact Lexi Wilson at lwilson@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

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