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Horseback riding program helps children impacted by domestic violence in Guilford County

Piedmont Triad News

HIGH POINT, N.C. (WGHP) — Therapeutic horseback riding is being used as an intervention point to break the cycle of domestic violence in Guilford County.

It’s all possible by a partnership between the Guilford County Justice Center and Horsepower Therapeutic Learning Center in High Point.

Nine children who have been impacted by domestic violence visit once a week.

For some children in the program, it’s their first time being around a horse.

“It’s opportunities like this that kind of give us an intervention point,” said Lt. Travis Reams, supervisor of the Hight Point Police Special Victims Unit. “There is something special about this place.”

It’s a getaway for children and a time to see they’re not alone.

“If we don’t create an intervention point between those children and the time they hit adulthood then it’s likely we’re going to see a repeat of domestic violence and our sole goal is to stop it,” Reams said.

Each week Reams stops by the center. He sees domestic violence cases come across his desk involving everyone from toddlers to teenagers.

“While they may not realize what we’re doing, we see it, it’s very visible to us from the outside in,” he said.

He’s seen a change in children seven to 15 during the six-week program.

“I saw these kids taking these horses, taking charge, just empowerment and we’re talking children,” Reams said.

Children overcome challenges, build confidence, and strengthen their mental and emotional health.

“Horses know you, what’s happening on your insides before you even say it,” said Catherine Johnson, director of the Guilford County Family Justice Center. “A lot of it is about communication and team building skills.”

Children are referred by the Guilford County Family Justice Center, a one-stop shop to help people young and old through crisis.

“I really do like it here,” said Quaidyn Hinton, a child in the Pathways and Camp HOPE Program. “It’s really fun.”

This is Hinton’s sixth year in the Pathway Program and first time at Horsepower.

“I think there’s something powerful about connecting with an animal,” Johnson said. “Something bigger than yourself.”

Hinton has learned the ropes around the center including how to calm, walk, ride and groom his horse named Trigger.

“He’s cool when he wants to be cool, but sometimes he just has a bad day,” Hinton said.

“I think there’s something powerful about connecting with an animal,” Johnson said. “Something bigger than yourself.”

Hinton applies the skills he learned with Trigger to everyday challenges.

“I just take some deep breaths and that will calm me down,” he said. “Like me and Trigger were.”

In November, Hinton and the other children who are part of the program will have a ceremony to show their loved ones all the skills they’ve learned.

“We want that to carry with them to be leaders in their school and leaders in their everyday life,” Reams said. “Leaders in their homes in some cases.”

Click the following to learn more about the Guilford County Family Justice Center and Horsepower Therapeutic Learning Center.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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