Horses Healing Hearts

Learn more at 'Welcome to Danville' reception Friday

It is often said that a dog is man's best friend, but the nonprofit organization Horses Healing Hearts proves that horses can share that title. Standing in the presence of a 1,000-pound horse, you'll surely direct your full attention to the present and forget your troubles and your hound at home.

Much like dogs, horses can reflect and sense human emotion. Before founding the organization in January, Danville resident Melissa Austin said she was going through a difficult time in her life and decided to take health and wellness classes.

After meeting with Dyane Golding, a certified life coach and Equine Guided Educator, the therapy that the horses offered helped Austin recognize her negative feelings and helped her blossom into the person she was meant to be, she explained.

Realizing the profound benefits of equine therapy, Austin made it her mission to allow all people, not just the elite, to have access to such a program in her hometown of Danville.

Horses Healing Hearts, or 3H, not to be confused with 4H, is dedicated to rescuing, rehabilitating, fostering and partnering horses with humans through Equine Guided Education. Workshops are offered and led by Ariana Strozzi, leader and creator of the industry, or Golding.

For the first time, Horses Healing Hearts will hold a "Welcome to Danville" reception, on June 8 and June 11, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., for residents to see and experience what horses can teach. Austin said that one session with a horse amounts to nearly 10 sessions with a human therapist.

"Already, in just two days, you've made more difference than a team of doctors," said Stan, a client from Brentwood, in a text to Austin, "Petting and grooming your horses made (my wife) feel so much better, and gave her hope, something to live for, and even look forward to."

Golding said Equine Guided Education partners horses with humans, giving people permission to be themselves and delve inside themselves to tap into emotions they forgot were there.

"Individuals, groups and families have agreed this type of experiential therapy can help you gain clarity, become un-stuck, and live authentically," the 3H website states, "Results empower you to lead a more fulfilling life."

As well as educating the community about the value, benefits and life-changing gifts horses provide, 3H simultaneously provides assistance to equines in need.

Last December, Austin rescued Spirit, a 5-year-old Thoroughbred that had been neglected and only weighed 700 pounds at the time. Months of rehabilitation have restored Spirit's health and ideal weight of 1,100 pounds, and revealed his kind-heartedness.

Knowing that Spirit had been a racing horse, identified by the tattoo inside his upper lip, Austin decided to research his past. Her investigation revealed his blood lineage to Secretariat, the American thoroughbred racehorse that became the first U.S. Triple Crown winner in 1973.

Spirit's racing name had been Lichtenstein and his previous trainers were Bob Baffert and Doug O'Neil, current trainer of I'll Have Another, the current Triple Crown contender.

The newest addition to 3H is Cinnamon Sugar, a 2-year-old Paiute Indian Mustang filly. Although currently in training, Cinnamon Sugar is the living ambassador for Green Valley Elementary School in Danville.

Austin hopes one day to implement a mobile unit working with the community and juvenile detention centers and addiction facilities. For now, you can "see yourself through the eyes of a horse" by visiting 3H's website to make a reservation for June 8.

Donations are also graciously accepted.

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Like this comment
Posted by John Lengyel
a resident of San Ramon
on Jun 6, 2012 at 1:57 pm

Horses Healing Hearts - A fantastic article about a great lady doing all she can for these beautiful animals as well as for the people in her community. I can’t wait to visit with my Autistic daughter who is already a huge animal lover. Please donate to this worthy cause and get the word out to everyone. John L. / San Ramon

Like this comment
Posted by Jennifer
a resident of San Ramon
on Jun 7, 2012 at 9:22 am

Where in Danville, is the reception being held?

Like this comment
Posted by PE
a resident of Danville
on Jun 7, 2012 at 11:19 am

I would like to make the reservation to be there on June 8th however where is this location? It is not clear on the website. This sounds like a wonderful opportunity!!!

Like this comment
Posted by Amelia
a resident of San Ramon
on Jun 7, 2012 at 4:37 pm

Contact Melissa on her website. She will let you know the exact location.


Like this comment
Posted by Melissa Austin
a resident of Danville
on Jun 7, 2012 at 9:50 pm

Horses Healing Hearts location is:
150 yds South on El Rio corner of 300 Romae Ct. Danville Ca, 94526
Private Residence please do not disturb
call for more details follow signs

Like this comment
Posted by Melissa Austin
a resident of Danville
on Jun 7, 2012 at 10:18 pm

Horses Healing Hearts is located 150 yrds south from the corner of 300 Romae Ct. On El Rio park on street barn runs next to freeway, Danville Ca.
Or call 415-260-2232 look forward to seeing you.

Like this comment
Posted by Sharon
a resident of Danville
on Jun 8, 2012 at 8:05 am

We live in the area and have watched these horses come in in need of a lot of attention and become healthy and robust in such a short time. We look forward to driving by as often as we can. Thank you for taking on this wonderful program.

Like this comment
Posted by Melissa Austin Founder 3H
a resident of Danville
on Jun 11, 2012 at 6:14 pm

Thank you everyone who came to meet Spirit,Buddy,Norm&Zorro. It was my pleasure to introduce Dyane Golding to Danville on Friday. The reception today went well and I appreciate wveryone who came out to 3H. I enjoyed meeting you all and look forward to promoting these beautiful creatures. I'm often speechless in their presence. Horses are healers. Thank you Dyane for Friday. I promise to keep everyone posted as we prepare for our first fundraiser. An exclusive screening of "Saving Americas Horses" with Willie Nelson at the Orinda Theatre, the date (TBD) to be determined. Please email to get on mailing list to receive newsletter. Giddy up! Melissa Austin

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