Grant to help Casa Valentina residents participate in equine-assisted activities


Whispering Manes Therapeutic Riding Center recently received a grant from the Coral Gables Community Foundation to initiate an equine assisted activities program for 10 young women who reside at Casa Valentina.

The young women will have the opportunity to participate in an eight-week program at Whispering Manes. Through the course of the program, in addition to learning to ride the horses, the participants will work from the ground up, learning how to handle and effectively interact with the horse. The goal of the program is promote self-healing and improved self-esteem through the powerful human-horse bond.
On Sept. 1, the first group of five young women started the program which runs through the end of October.

Executive director Erin Bauer DVM, said, “We’re always excited to welcome new community partners to the program. This is first time we have received a grant from the Coral Gables Community Foundation. With this grant we’re happy to welcome Casa Valentina residents and staff to the Whispering Manes family.”

The program is overseen and conducted by Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH) certified instructor Robin Bramson.

“In addition to learning riding skills, equine-assisted activities are known for many benefits, including teaching improved communication and social skills, empathy toward others, confidence, responsibility, and problem solving in a non-threatening environment,” Bramson said.

“It will be really exciting to see the participants grow each week. Because horses give immediate feedback, I expect that the young women will quickly learn to establish trust and bond with their equine partners,” she added.

Founded in 2011, by Nancy Hector, Whispering Manes provides equine assisted activities to adults and children with special needs. Hector recognized the poor accessibility of such centers to those who need it the most so she selected the farm where Whispering Manes resides because of its central location in Miami-Dade County. Whispering Manes formally opened in January 2012 with a handful of students.

At present, Whispering Manes serves about 70 participants a week, including children from local special needs schools, private participants, and veterans. Most recently Whispering Manes added a program for individuals who are visually impaired and is planning to expand services for people with spinal cord injuries.

Casa Valentina is a federally recognized 501(c)(3) dedicated to helping at-risk youth and youth transitioning from foster care to independent living by providing housing and support services.

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