OUR FEATURED HORSES
We help people. Our horses help people heal and change their lives. At Changing Gaits we recognize and understand the value and impact horses have on us all- they help us with self-esteem, self-empowerment, self-awareness, self-control, and most importantly horses give us happiness.
WHY HORSE THERAPY?
Horses are the perfect partner guiding you to look within to find your own next right steps.
Horses have evolved to be extremely sensitive to their environment because they are subject to predators. They instinctively analyze and react to our body language and other nonverbal cues and offer us valuable insights for other areas of our lives.
Large and Powerful
When approaching a horse, it’s hard to ignore their size and their presence. We see our relationships with others and ourselves in a new light. We see how we can face other big or overwhelming things in our lives. A way that works when other therapies don’t.
Horses are herd animals and have distinct personalities and moods. They could be stubborn, reserved, or they could be playful and curious. As social animals, their unique sensitivities provide non-judgmental feedback. People find their own answers.
The horse and the opportunity to be in the natural environment create opportunities that cannot be replicated in the clinic or classroom setting.
Proximal strength and stability at the shoulders to enhance reaching and grasp for daily tasks
Greater stability and strength to move around and explore the environment
Increased respiration and vocalization to interact with others
Because the average horse walks at a rate of approximately 100 steps per minute, just 5 minutes represents 500 neuro-motor inputs to the client. This can serve as a powerful tool for the facilitation of the key neuro-motor systems that support function. Strength, muscle coordination and sensory processing used for walking, talking and fine motor skills for daily activities, along with general attention to tasks have all been shown to be positively impacted by Hippotherapy.
Riding a horse moves the rider’s body in a manner like a human gait, allowing clients with physical needs to show improvement in flexibility, balance and muscle strength. The physical act of riding also improves posture, trunk control, motor function and coordination. Instructors then integrate exercises that provide a wide variety of sensory benefits. These activities also help increase attention, communication skills, spatial awareness and socialization.
“I immediately bonded with Akita when Guy Kaufman introduced her and shared her story. Guy recognized my personal struggles and nervousness as I sat in Akita’s saddle to ride for the first time. Akita initially reacted by tugging her reigns and bobbing her head. She intuitively sensed my lack of confidence and anxiety. Guy came over to softly remind me that my energy transfers into her. Akita is a special horse in my heart. I love her. She is simply beautiful.
Working with Akita has taught me so much about myself regarding trust, patience, and tolerance of myself in situations that surround me. I thank God for Changing Gaits and His earthly gift of horses. Thank you, Guy Kaufman, for your willingness to follow God’s vision and helping others as he has helped you. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to work with my Akita Banana. Today I can honestly say “I am too blessed to be stressed.”
“I met BG Sky when I started learning to ride a horse as therapy to recover balance and equilibrium after a TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) about 6 years ago. Initially, I was struggling with physical challenges and was anxious, but BG Sky moved so slowly and deliberately. She was so gentle and patient with me.
She made allowances for me when I was learning to saddle and tack a horse, but she also challenged me more as I grew more experienced. When I was ready, she showed me the other side of her who also loves to run fast. She simple understands the needs of the person she is with and responds accordingly.
I now work with BG Sky as a therapy horse for a wide range of people. She is tender and gentle with children and vulnerable adults (like I was) and can also run fast and provide a challenge for more experienced riders. BG Sky is a highly intelligent and sensitive co-therapist with whom it is an honor to work with.
Certified Equine Therapist
Jennifer Renvold, a longtime friend and contributor of Changing Gaits, donated her horse, Image, to us in the Fall of 2017. She said “Someday my Image will be Shadow's replacement.” We all know Shadow can never be replaced, but the similarities and behaviors between these two horses is amazing!
“Let me start by saving that Image is my best friend. I know most people think that is strange given the fact he is a horse. But when you look into the eyes of this horse you see both heaven and peace like you’ve never seen before! The day I started going to Changing Gaits is the day that Image and I met. It was the day our bond started.
Image has taught me how to trust again, how to laugh and even love. When we go out for our rides for time between Jesus and I, Image will take me to the prayer tree without me even saying a word. I could go on and on for hours about Image, but instead I will end this short story with this: If you go out to Changing Gaits, say “hello” to Image. Spend time with him and you will love him as much as I do.”
Orion was born at Changing Gaits and is now 16 years old. Orion is a gentle giant who provides trust and true friendship. Initially, he was very independently spirited, but over time he became a strong lead horse at the ranch.
When I came to Changing Gaits, I had many challenges to overcome in life. Orion taught me to be a consistent leader. Spending as much time as I have with Orion has brought me peace, joy, and above all else love. Now, we honor God by spreading joy and love to everyone that joins us here at Changing Gaits through healing trail rides with horses like Orion."
Mushu helped me find my faith, a close connection with God, and sobriety through my time at Changing Gaits. Even though Mushu is sight-challenged, he is a magnificent horse who knows his way around. I was inexperienced and nervous when I first came to the ranch, but when I met Mushu and looked him in the eye, I saw he was smiling! I had no idea a horse could smile!
He helped me overcome my personal struggles and gain confidence while connecting with God. I now regularly take Mushu to the round pen, where he loves walking. If I walk there as well, he will constantly follow behind me. When I stop walking, Mushu rests his head directly on my shoulder. Wow, all I can say is thank you God for never giving up on me and bringing this amazing creature into my life!
“Stormy inspired me to train horses at Changing Gaits. She was saved by Guy Kaufman and brought to the ranch after a rough start in life. Just like many others who visit the ranch, Stormy came to us seeking help.
As a volunteer at Changing Gaits, I instantly felt my heart tug to help this horse. Stormy was a bit nervous and uncertain at first. It was the same feeling I originally had about horses, but I worked with Stormy to gain her trust. In turn, she helped me overcome my anxiety. Over time we both gained confidence, trust, and a strong bond through working together. I trained her to be the best trail horse with children!
I am so grateful for Changing Gaits. Everyone at the ranch has helped me much more than they could ever imagine. To my dearest Stormy, I look forward to next Spring when we can take to the trails!”
Changing Gaits Volunteer
"I give you a perfect example of why I run this ranch. Please meet Jack Frost.
About 2.5 years ago, I received a call from a friend of mine that knew of a young lady that had to get rid of her horse. My friend said it was a beautiful white pony, it's rideable, it walks, it trots; but she hesitated, it has only one problem: Jack is completely blind. I instantly thought what in the world Lord am I to do with a blind pony?
I prayed and a few days later the young lady with tears streaming down her face, dropped of her beloved Jack Frost.
Two weeks earlier we were donated a miniature black pony named Lil’ Black Beauty. The Lord put it upon my heart that Jack was to pair up with Black Beauty so that Friday night I went to Fleet Farm and brought a little bell to put on Lil’ Black Beauty to see if Jack would follow the noise. The next day we tried it out. Amazingly, Jack and Beauty started bonding instantly!
A few days later, I decided to bring two horses together with a 7-year-old boy, who was personally struggling after being placed in temporary foster care due to possible abuse going on in his home. The two horses were wandering around in the arena when I asked the little boy if he believed in Jesus. He said he did, so I got down on my knees and we prayed. When we were finished, I gave him a red lead rope (which represents the blood of Christ: 3 strands = Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), when I asked the little boy to name three things he was struggling with. His answer astounded me when he said anger, resentment, and abandonment.
This beautiful young boy had no idea Jack was blind as he walked out towards the two horses. I sat in a chair watching and praying when he picked Jack Frost. He clipped the lead rope onto Jack Frost and nervously tried to lead him over to me. Jack was hesitant at first, but the boy was able to bring him over to me. The boy told me he was nervous. He soon learned that when he settled down Jack settled down. That’s when I finally told the boy that Jack was completely blind, and the horse needed to trust him first and then he could lead him.
As this amazing experience unfolded it reminded me that WE ARE THE HORSE, and though we cannot see Jesus we have to trust him.
The boys head turned to the ground as I dropped to my knees, asking him, “Why do you have these three issues?” He replied, “Well, the reason I’m in foster care is because I’m being abused at home.” I was in awe of this young boy and what he had just professed. You see, a blind horse named Jack Frost helped this little boy talk about what was going on his life. The healing began and soon thereafter he and his sister were adopted by an awesome Christian family. Since then, the boy has been out at the ranch on multiple occasion, and I am so incredibly happy to tell you, he’s doing great!
In my world (and yours), Jesus rocks! I thank him daily for our blind little horse named Jack Frost."
-Guy Kaufman, Founder of Changing Gaits
In Remembrance of Shadow
CGI founder, Nile Guy Kaufman, met Shadow on June 1, 1999 at Wild River Stables where God used Hank Magnuson and Shadow to change Guy’s life from addiction and lead him to Christ. Five years later, on June 1, 2004, Shadow and Guy started Changing Gaits.
On Friday, August 13, 2021, Shadow was laid to rest. Shadow had fought colic for some time. When Shadows symptoms worsened, volunteer Tina Klein and Guy knew that they were missing something. Sure enough, when Michelle from Sunrise Equine came, she discovered a tumor on Shadow’s heart. As Guy said, “Shadow died of a broken heart.”
Shadow impacted so many people. Our equine staff, volunteers of Changing Gaits, and all clients have been touched in a positive way by Shadow. Guy’s original horse, Shadow, was the longest standing employee, hardest working and loyal servant in providing equine therapy and love to thousands.
Shadow was a beautiful bay Arabian gelding (1995 – 2021). May dear Shadow rest in peace. So loved by all. Gone, but never forgotten, as we carry out his work in always remembering we are “Too Blessed to be Stressed.”