Guest opinion: The healing power of horses honored |

Guest opinion: The healing power of horses honored

Gabrielle Greeves

It started with a Cinderella storyline, but instead of a young girl with golden locks, we find ourselves enchanted by a strong Amish plow horse and his owner. The upcoming screening of “Harry & Snowman,” directed by Ron Davis, is an underdog story that doubles as an animal-rescue advocacy tool, providing a tender illustration of the bond between human and horse.

“Harry & Snowman” is showing to a sold-out audience on Wednesday at Aspen’s Wheeler Opera House. Brought to the valley by a collaborative effort between WindWalkers and the Roaring Fork Horse Council, this film is a beautiful way to highlight the many healing relationships that are being cultivated at our Equine Facilitated Learning and Therapy Center here in the Roaring Fork Valley.

When you decide to work with partners in the Roaring Fork Valley, charitable groups or clubs of like-minded residents, you never can be sure of the success of the final outcome of a project. One very important part of the challenge for WindWalkers, with the Roaring Fork Valley Horse Council in hand, was to choose other participating club and charity partners to help us. So, together with the Equitarian Initiative, Roaring Fork Hounds Pony Club and Smiling Goat Ranch, we chose a project that had a 100 percent chance of success.

In reality, I believe that “Harry & Snowman” chose us.

Aspen native and filmmaker Karin Reid Offield met with us in May and told us that she had a film that she wanted to bring to her hometown and have this film touch the community with its message. We listened and today as you read this column, the Wheeler is entirely sold out — almost 500 seats.

We are excited to share this true, heartwarming story about a man and a horse that together accomplished things not thought possible. Such is the story for many of the partners listed above who use horses as a modality or in treatment for those with challenges. History has proven that the union of horse and man creates a third and greater force. This is true for what we are trying to accomplish in our valley in so many ways. For my organization, this is what we strive to do every single day.

“How?” you ask.

We have soldiers who come home with many ailments. Yet in time their experiences with the horses changes their lives, with enrichment, better physical well-being and increased confidence. We have a young autistic boy who tries to communicate but cannot succeed as well as expected. His horseback riding experiences have given him a voice for the very first time — and he often signs “more please.”

The horses take no credit. But they are with us every step of the way. Our partners practice helping people every day, and we and our horses are so proud to be a part of this larger and more satisfying community.

Thank you to everyone that has participated — we are grateful. Thank you FilmRise, the distributor, and Karin Reid Offield, the producer, who made this possible. See you at the movies.

Gabrielle Greeves is executive director of WindWalkers Equine Assisted Learning and Therapy Center.

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