Road trip stories

Two women pose next to a horse.

Lisa and Angie with the horses.

With many people living paycheck to paycheck, the skyrocketing cost of living keeps us up at night. People are pushed to choose which is more important: food or shelter.

Well, my name is Angie Whitehurst (a.k.a. D.C. Angie) and I say it is time to shed light on what we can do to empower ourselves and improve our lives. Joining me on my quest is Lisa Blackburn Ullven, CEO of Guided Results and author of “Secrets to Sustainable Solutions – Tips from Business, Science and Non-Profit Experts.”

In May we officially started our road trip. We want to have conversations with real people to explore tools benefiting families and communities. Now, we’re bringing that experience to you. For today’s adventure, we are headed to the orientation for an equine therapy program.

While there are a variety of equine programs, our initial visit was to the Veteran’s Equine Therapy Program at the INSPIRE Equine Assisted Center in Clearwater, Florida. Melissa Yarbrough, the owner of the ranch, said just 30 minutes with the horses has been shown to significantly reduce in blood pressure for participants.

The calming equine-assisted therapy can help with a multitude of the growing challenges that we face including but not limited to: anxiety, addiction, autism, depression, eating disorders and grief. It can even help build confidence and communication skills.

Horses model the behavior to return to a state of peace after a threat, helping people impacted by trauma, loss and even war. The National Institutes of Health concluded that equine-assisted Therapy could be a new way to treat veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.

At the ranch, Alex arrived early for the session, thrilled to participate. “There is a waitlist,” he said, and he felt “lucky to get in.”

“My buddies don’t even know about these benefits,” Alex added.

Alex started out reserved, his hands in his pockets. Yarbrough explained that horses, too, communicate through their posture and position. In this case, the horse’s stance was inviting Alex to connect in a warm, friendly, judge-free zone.

Within minutes, we could easily see that Alex built a meaningful connection with the horse.

Like Alex, Nicole, another participant, started out standing next to the horse. But soon she and the horse were connecting face to face.

The great news is that equine therapy is becoming more utilized around the world. And it can help people feel connected.

Alex summarized our top takeaways when we arrived. He shared how it can be hard for us to “get out of our comfort zone” to do something new. Yet, Alex was the first to illustrate the meaningful connections we can make by stepping out of our comfort zone. It was an incredible experience to be a part of, as we watched people and animals “rescue each other” by simply connecting and being together. You can check out the photos of our road trip adventure at

Angie Whitehurst is an artist and vendor with Street Sense Media. Lisa Blackburn Ullven is the CEO of Guided Results and an author.

Issues |Health, Mental

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We believe ending homelessness begins with listening to the stories of those who have experienced it.