Health is for horses
Fostering health through equine therapy is a calling for Auburn’s Honey Cowan. Her Healing Pastures nonprofit foundation at C-Horse Ranch provides riding lessons and interaction with other farm animals as part of the healing process.
“Our mission statement is to provide equine agriculture and animal-related services to people with special and individual needs to create health and happiness and facilitate courage, confidence and caring,” she said.
Cowan’s involvement with horses started later in life.
“I am a nurse and therapist and didn’t started riding until I was 52,” she said. “I went to hypnosis training and horses kept coming up.”
So she started taking riding lessons and bought a horse.
“One day I took a client out to the horse and just watched all the anxiety drop away from her,” Cowan said. “That’s when I realized I could start incorporating horses into therapy. I was already using dogs. Now we have three goats, a pig, three cats, a bunny, two dogs and 23 horses.”
Fourteen of the horses belong to her.
“We work with the Girl Scouts, CASA (foster children), and as vendors for all the home schools,” she said. “We have a mature riders group for people who are older. We had a cancer survivors group and are working to get back funding to get it going again, and we would like to start a group for caregivers.”
Fundraising is a necessary part of the job to keep the programs going and Cowan will be “saddling up” for the annual Blue Jean Ball on Sept. 22.
The late afternoon-early evening festivities at the ranch will include dancing, dinner in the round pen, live auction, silent auction and a horse show.
“We will either have karaoke or live music,” she said. “We did line dancing last time. I’m hoping we will do it again this year.”
And the dress code is blue jeans, of course.
In addition to ticket sales, sponsorships are available.
“They start at $450 and sponsors get a year’s worth of advertising on a banner in the round pen,” she said.
All the money raised goes to scholarships and horse care in the Healing Pastures program.
“(The Blue Jean Ball is) our major fundraiser,” Cowan said. “In May we have Family Fun Day where we open the ranch to the public … ,” she said. “There’s a harvest festival on Oct. 6 and a special needs fair on Oct. 14.”
Besides the therapy work, riding classes, dressage classes and horse boarding at the ranch, Cowan is a familiar sight in the community, bringing along some of her animals to numerous activities including Auburn Recreation District events, birthday parties, the Senior Health Fair —“if they don’t see us, they ask for us,” she said — and to nursing homes.
Cowan’s favorite part of the job is seeing the results of her efforts.
“ I love helping kids,” she said. “I have a mother who just brought her two kids and she said to me, ‘do you think you can do for my two kids what you did for me?’ People bringing their kids back is so rewarding because you know the therapy has had a major impact on them. It’s really rewarding to get calls years later from people who say what an impact the ranch had on their lives.”