Fieldstone Farm and the Therapeutic Power of Horses

Rocco celebrates after winning a blue on Logan at the Hunter Jumper Classic in Chagrin Falls in 2019. Photo by Frank Gwirtz

BY JENNIFER LEON

Founded more than 40 years ago, the highly accredited and respected Fieldstone Farm Therapeutic Riding Center in Chagrin Falls, Ohio has worked tirelessly to help transform the lives of its students and their families through a diverse application of equine-assisted therapy. People of all ages with a variety of physical, cognitive and emotional issues gain strength, confidence and independence through riding and interacting with horses. 

Fieldstone Farm not only offers programs for individuals and their families, but also works in partnership with other local groups to offer equine-assisted therapies. In fact, according to a 2017 blog on Psychology Today, “Equine-Assisted Therapy, particularly Equine-Facilitated Psychotherapy, can have positive results for those who are recovering from substance abuse, trauma, depression, or a number of other psychological issues. It can help individuals develop a work ethic, identify and process feelings, and learn how to trust.” 

One such program partnership exists between Fieldstone Farm and the Renee Jones Empowerment Center (RJEC), a non-profit organization fostering opportunities for survivors of human trafficking in Ohio. 

Photo by Frank Gwirtz

In March of 2016, Renee Jones, President and CEO of RJEC, started bringing participants to Fieldstone Farm. When asked why Fieldstone Farm, Jones said that, “Since day one, it was evident that [Fieldstone Farm] has been one of the best programs to promote healing for those we serve who have suffered from trauma, anxiety, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of their victimization.” She continued, “The warm and inviting staff, the beautiful horses and atmosphere were a life-changing and memorable experience for our clients.” 

Jones had some experience riding horses and knew there would be benefits in providing an equine therapy option to her clients at RJEC. Her hope was for her clients to find relief and facilitate healing by traveling to a serene place with beautiful animals that they could care for and who would care for them in return. 

Jones recalled the amazing transformation she has witnessed in clients who participate in equine therapy, “We had a client that suffered from severe anxiety and panic attacks. She was afraid when she started horse therapy but soon made a connection with a horse named George.” George’s calming effect on Jones’ client soon extended beyond the barn once he became the background on her phone. Then, if she felt a panic attack coming on, she would look at George on her phone to relax before the attack took over. 

Results like the one Jones described are the goal at Fieldstone Farm. They’re indicative of the strength and support shown by the program and its many participants, or as the program calls it, #FieldstoneSTRONG. In addition to the hashtag, their Facebook and Instagram pages showcase a number of special moments for its participants and horses. From lessons and camps to their annual show during the Chagrin Hunter Jumper Classic, it’s easy to see how the staff, volunteers and, of course, the horses, have had a marked presence and positive impact on their community. 

Learn more about Fieldstone Farm Therapeutic Riding Center at https://www.fieldstonefarmtrc.com/.

Learn more about the Renee Jones Empowerment Center at http://rjecempower.org/.