Horses change lives, heal hearts

“How sad I was until I started working with the horses.” Raeann, age 13.

Raeann learned this “life lesson from horses” in the Between Horses and Humans program for children experiencing difficulties. The program is available to children and young adults from ages 8 through 26 who may have emotional issues, family problems, been abused or neglected, been diagnosed as ADHD positive or with any number of other personal challenges and issues.

The Mission of BHH is “providing youth a place to learn leadership and life skills through horsemanship.” BHH is supported entirely by contributions, grants and fundraising activities, which enable the program to be offered free to all participants

“Horses helped me not be bossy with my friends.” Sawyer, age 9.

Barbara Slade is president of BHH and its highly qualified program director. Her equestrian experience expands over a period of 50 years, 38 as a professional horseman. She donates her administration hours to the program.

Of equal importance, Barbara is a skilled and dedicated teacher. It’s a privilege to observe her imparting her knowledge of horses in an interactive exchange that commands the children’s interest, and as she says, leading them “to experience the magic of horses.” She praises their learning and improvement but also demands discipline and safety in a positive and calm manner.

“Horses make me my true self.” Samantha, age 14.

Barbara took over BHH (a 501(c)(3) local nonprofit) in 2009, and is the only salaried instructor. There are four volunteer part-time instructors and 23 program volunteers, as well as 25-30 volunteers who help with events. BHH has seven horses, five of which have been donated and two are loaned to BHH. All are former competitive show horses and know how to work with kids; Barbara says they are the best in the world for this kind of program.

The program is conducted at Maddi’s Friesian Ranch, in Gardnerville. The ranch is owned by Ruth Page and Greg Walsh and is the largest Friesian breeding ranch in North America. Barbara says Ruth and Greg have embraced BHH and are part of the team. They provide all facilities and even hay.

“Horses will always stop your loneliness.” Brandon, age 10.

In addition to the generosity of Ruth and Greg, BHH is dependent on contributions, a few small grants and fundraisers. The Annual Fundraiser Luncheon is BHH’s largest source of revenue; it will be held this year at Maddi’s Friesian Ranch from noon to 3 p.m. on October 17. There will be equine demonstrations by students, performances by two of the world’s most successful Friesian stallions, a delightful lunch, silent auctions and live music: a Gala event to be enjoyed by all! Ticket prices are $65 per person; $120 per couple, $70 at the gate and $600 for table of ten. (Directions: turn north off Mottsville Lane onto Old Foothill Road, then right to 310 Allerman Lane).

BHH students gain self-confidence, trust, courage, compassion, and leadership and communication skills. Hundreds and hundreds of children have benefitted from the horsemanship program of Between Horses and Humans. It’s amazing to witness the changes in their lives. Your support will be greatly appreciated.

“Horses make me happy.” Sam, age 8.


Bo Statham is a retired lawyer, congressional aid and businessman. He lives in Gardnerville and can be reached at


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