Horses That Heal

By Lindsay Nielsen

September 26, 2012 Updated Sep 27, 2012 at 12:15 AM EST

Town of Union, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Most everyone has heard of psychotherapy and massage therapy, but have you ever heard of equine assisted therapy?

Well one local farm is offering the service for free.

For the past three years, the non-profit organization Borrowed Freedom has been using its rescued horses to help heal those with special needs.

"A lot of the horses that are here have come from rescue situations. They've come from programs where they weren't treated properly. They've been rehabilitated, extensive veterinary care," said the founder of Borrowed Freedom, Colleen Cheechalk.

Matthew Bauzo, 3, has grown tremendously since he began hippotherapy to help with his developmental delay.

"We're using the motion of the horse to elicit sensory responses. When a child is riding a horse, they're actually walking. The horse replicates the human gait, forward, backward, side to side, up and down," said Cheechalk.

"It's helped him with his balance, basically everything, his coordination. It's helped him a lot with his speech believe it or not also," says Bauzo's mom, Katrina Evans.

Every therapist at Borrowed Freedom is a volunteer.

It offers services to more than 40 clients each week free of charge.

Cheechalk says something as simple as leading the horse can teach confidence, trust, and empowerment.

Sara Clauson has made an unbreakable bond with her partner Dusty.

"Learn how to feed the horses, groom the horses, how to walk the horses, it teaches us responsibility," says Clauson.

The Broome Developmental Center has recently started sending patients to Borrowed Freedom and is seeing a lot of success.

"I was surprised how good the horses are, how calm they are even when sometimes our individuals are a little nervous. More so you see the difference in the individuals where sometimes they're very loud and boisterous and then they come here and they settle down, they calm down," says Michaela Mahon, Clauson's psychiatrist.

Borrowed Freedom heals horses that heal humans.

Borrowed Freedom serves Broome, Tioga, Delaware, Tompkins, Cortland and surrounding counties.

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