Local News

Triangle organization uses equine counseling as unique way to help children heal

Posted April 20, 2017 6:26 p.m. EDT
Updated April 20, 2017 9:45 p.m. EDT

— When a tragic and indelible event happens to a child, sometimes they do not know where to turn for help.

Hope Reins, a faith-based organization is Durham County, is helping children ages 5 to 18 use equine therapy, a unique type of counseling, to heal.

Hope Reins pairs a hurting child experiencing crisis with a rescued horse. The horses help the children through whatever struggles they may be facing.

"That's really what kids connect with because as we share the horse's story, and it sounds like their story," said Kim Tschirret, founder and CEO of Hope Reins.

Tschirret founded Hope Reins seven years ago.

"I grew up in a home with an alcoholic father...very abusive environment," she said. "I had a horse when I was a child that really comforted me. It is a passion for me because I see lives transformed every single day out here."

Seven-year-old Ashlyn Guin, and her 9-year-old brother, Garrett, both come to the ranch to heal.

"The horses are fun," Garrett Guin said. "They can be funny sometimes."

The Guin family said the equine therapy helped them transform their grief into hope. They lost their husband and father to suicide almost two years ago.

Aaron Guin had PTSD from his time in the military.

"We were texting and talking, and the next thing I know, he took his life," said Amanda Guin, Ashlyn and Garrett's mother.

Amanda Guin said she felt abandoned when her husband left her.

"I lost a lot of people after I lost my husband," she said. "I lost my church. I lost some of my good friends. I lost a lot of stuff when he died."

Now, Ashlyn and Garrett share secrets with the horses they don't share with anyone else.

"I like that you can always tell them anything," said Ashlyn Guin. "If we don't really want to hold it in, and don't really want to tell a person, we can just tell the horses and they won't blurt it out."

Hope Reins has been a place of healing for the entire Guin family. While the children work with the horses, Amanda is able to have one-on-one time with people who simply listen.

"(My children) don't understand the therapy where you're sitting there just talking to somebody across the room," Amanda Guin said. "They are like, 'I'm not going to tell somebody I don't know,' but they will tell the horse."

Garrett says when he leaves Hope Reins he is "happy, excited and tired."

"They have this joy when we leave, like there's hope," Ashlyn Guin said. "We pray at night and we say, 'Lord, thank you for the blessings that you have given us.'"

Hope Reins never turns a child away, and all services are free. The organization relies on volunteers, businesses and donations.

This weekend, Hope Reins will hold a fundraiser called "Hoofin' it for Hope." It is a mile-long hike around the ranch.

The Guin family says they will be there.