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Nonprofit uses horses to help people heal from trauma

Mane Support in Roane County is a group focused on guiding people through grief and trauma. Horses help lead the way.

ROANE COUNTY, Tenn. — Animals can have therapeutic powers, which is why a nonprofit in Roane County uses horses to help people heal. Mane Support in Rockwood is a group focused on guiding others through grief. 

Kim Henry, the founder of Mane Support, says she has always felt a calling from God to help others through their grief and trauma.  

"Mane Support is an equine-assisted grief counseling program," Henry said. "We provide a ministry to children, youth, teens and adults and families who have experienced all types of loss in their life."

On the farm is where kids and adults can step out of their comfort zone and into a supportive environment. Each whinny has a deeper meaning.

She said she believes there are healing powers pulsing through a horse's hooves.

"God gave them this intuitive ability to be able to think and feel before we even know what we think or feel," Henry said.

Inside the barn, struggles are set free. The therapy is a window into the wounds.

"It is the most humbling thing to hear someone's stories," Henry said. "The metaphors that they draw from walking with a horse, and they talk about, 'Well, that's just like my dad who used to walk beside me, he was so big in my life,' or they have a hold of the what we call a lead rope, and they're saying, 'You know, I just didn't want mom to leave,' so that horse becomes Mom."

Volunteers like Karen Malone get a front-row seat to the transformation away from the trauma.

"Maybe they've gotten to let go of all of that weight that's been on them because they got to spend some time with the horses, they got to spend some time with some activities, and they learned that they're not alone in the world with all of this, that there are other people and other kids going through the same things they are," Malone said.

For others, like mom and daughter volunteers Shannon and Keira Mowry, diving into helping with the nonprofit is a domino effect.

"It's really an opportunity for me to take care of the animals that are going to help take care of our youth in our area that might be struggling or might need them to work through something," Shannon Mowry said. "I can kind of talk through something while they just listen."

Sometimes, that understanding shows up through silence. Mane Support doesn't keep all the resources to itself either.

"It's all about working together to help more people help more people," Henry said.

The group reaches out to other nonprofits, just like the empowering nonprofit Getaway Days.

It is an organization that works with young people. It offers kids the chance to discover for themselves a new future through experiential learning, according to executive director Kyle Pickell.

"We are so excited to see the ways in which they are just a blessing to the community, the ways in which they seek to cultivate goodness and beauty, and just truth and justice for the for the kids that they serve," Pickell said.

Kim believes the blessings will keep flowing.

"Here, they know that there's a support system, and all the noises and all the sounds of the horses, let us know they're right behind us all the time," Henry said.

The sound of love lingers in the barn, even in freedom through the field.

There are multiple events and fundraisers coming up to help Mane Support.     There's a motorcycle ride this weekend and camps in the fall, like the Katerpillar Kids Kamp.

Later in the summer will be the Hoof to Heart Dinner. There will also be a suicide prevention ride in partnership with Faith-n-Friends.

Follow along for info on their Facebook Page.

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