Durango ranch helps community unlock their fullest potential by bonding with horses

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DURANGO, C.O. – The loud bustle of the city, and long hours at work, leave many people overwhelmed with life’s challenges. However, Horse Empower Ranch in Durango is working to shake things up, by helping people overcome those challenges through a bonding experience with one of humankind’s oldest companions.

At this ranch it’s not dogs that are man’s best friends, rather it’s the horses. But walking over to a 1,200 pound animal can be intimating for some, especially if it’s your first rodeo. So, starting off slowly with a friendly hello, maybe some grooming, and a deep breath will get you trotting in the right direction.

“They’re big animals and because they are sentient, individually thinking, feeling and behaving with their own personalities or ‘horsenality’ you become absolutely confident and empowered after you find success and even form a relationship with these animals,” said Kim Hardesty, the owner and manager of Horse Empower.

And that’s exactly what she teaches in Durango, it’s a program called Equine Assisted Learning (EAL).

“It gives you the experience to practice being clear, knowing what you want and how to adjust yourself for better communication with people,” Hardesty said.

Because like people, no two horses are alike, so when you’re on a horse it’s up to you to learn how to communicate with your ride.

“You have to make a plan so if you just kind of go off you’re not really looking where you’re going, that horse is liable to maybe push you off your path to walk around in circles,” Hardesty said.

Taking charge of an animal twice your size builds self-esteem.

“If you can achieve whatever it is that you want to achieve with a horse, whether it’s just brushing him, leading him or doing a more detailed activity to find success with a 1,200 pound animal and to get them to agree to partner with you when they have their own ideas, thoughts, beliefs, that’s a big deal. So we really work on building confidence here, and people leave feeling very confident,” Hardesty added.

Horse Empower recently started a new program called Ladies Night, where the girls get the horses all to themselves.