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The Joyful Horse Project

The Joyful Horse Project (Austin, Texas, USA) provides a safe-haven for the holistic rehabilitation and adoption of abandoned horses that would otherwise be bound for slaughter or compromised through neglect and ignorance.
Healing with Horses is a unique horsemanship program designed as a recreational and community-building opportunity for retired military families. Former combat veterans work one-on-one with a rescue horse and a coach while their family members enjoy the camaraderie of other military families and volunteers. The ranch setting offers a relaxed, non-competitive environment where the focus is on learning how to help rescue horses re-establish bonds of trust with people.


The foundation of the program is based on developing a working partnership with the horse. Participants learn to use body language and rope position to clearly communicate and direct the horse. They are asked to actively observe the horse’s response and adjust their own actions accordingly. This process of asking, observing and comparing responses, helps participants begin to develop a feel for the horse and learn how to improve the quality of their work together.

Veterans are amazingly well suited to the challenge of working with rescue horses. By background and training, they are keenly aware of the bonds of trust required to perform any task with sureness and confidence. These unique talents help the rescue horses overcome their fears and become more suitable for further training and adoption.
In addition, many veteran participants find that their work with the horse and coach helps to reduce their own stress and provides insights into other interpersonal relationships. Families who share the experience together find a common purpose in helping to rehabilitate the horses.
The Joyful Horse Project successfully wrapped up the Healing with Horses Pilot Veterans Program on 23 March 2013. It’s now seeking grant funding and financial support to establish an ongoing program.

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