“We do a lot of outings and stuff, and our activities director heard about this place, and we came out to tour the farm. We know that equine therapy is very therapeutic for individuals living with mental illness. A lot of our clients love animals, so they respond well to doing things like this, and everyone was very excited to come out,” said Erica Picklesimon, the executive director of the local NAMI branch.
NAMI is a grassroots mental health support organization providing support, advocacy, and education, as well as social support for individuals who live with mental illness.
The Fishers originally began the work with equine therapy five years ago, which began as combination of Brittany’s love for horses, and Jason’s recovery from 20 years of service with the U.S. Air Force as a lieutenant colonel.
“She had a lifelong love of horses, and well, I’m a client for these services. I’m a veteran, and so I did a lot of deployments and would come back from such deployments pretty used up, and I didn’t know it at the time, but having worked with the horses over the last five years, it’s absolutely therapeutic. So technically, I was the first client,” he said.
Getting the word out, getting approved as a nonprofit, and having other nonprofits involved took time, but it was well worth it, Fisher said. They also run a commercial business, providing pony parties and such, but even those proceeds are taken to fund their nonprofit. The goal is to continue the collaboration with NAMI as a annual event in the future, perhaps through multiple events throughout the year.
“We’re still in the early stages of getting the word out to the Springfield and Dayton area, to let people know this is a resource, and they can come out and have a great day with us,” he said.
“I’m hoping we can build a lasting relationship between the two agencies and that we can even help some of our clients by providing more therapeutic opportunities to do things like this. We’re just hoping to build and sustains relationships in the community,” said Picklesimon
For more information about Hoofbeats and Heartbeats, or Blue Horseshoe Farms, email jason@bluehorseshoefarm, call (937) 708-9605, or visit https://bluehorseshoefarm.com/.
For information on the Clark, Greene, and Madison Counties branch of NAMI and their services, call (937) 322-5600.