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Programs for Youth


Heart of Horse Sense serves at-risk youth in Western North Carolina.

We support Individual therapy and group programming for WNC at-risk youth

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There's need in our own community.

Youth get an opportunity to practice important lifeskills, like communication, self-advocacy, dealing with fear and anxiety, and more!

Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) & Learning (EAL) , are especially suited for youth, in that they are not office-based interventions. EAP is engaging, interesting and does not require youth to be verbal about their thoughts and feelings. Instead, it allows them the opportunity to try out new behaviors and get feedback from an unbiased source: the horse.  For some youth this is the "last chance corral", in that everything else has been tried and nothing has worked. Horses can make a difference when nothing else does!

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About the lives of youth living with Developmental Trauma in WNC

  • One in four children are living in poverty in Buncombe County. Last year, there were over 500 students classified as homeless living in Buncombe County. That is enough students to fill an entire elementary school. Research has linked child poverty with societal costs including academic under achievement, higher dropout rates, higher rates of teen pregnancy, higher costs of crime, and poorer overall health outcomes.

  • 54% of Asheville City and Buncombe County students are on free and reduced lunch. And 54% of Asheville City and Buncombe County students are on free and reduced lunch.

  • The unemployment rate for Buncombe County has stayed at an average 7.7% since 2011. However, many people who are currently employed are underemployed - working at minimum wage and having to work multiple jobs to make ends meet. One in five American adults work in jobs that pay “poverty-level wages,” and the current minimum wage is lower, in inflation-adjusted terms, than it was in 1968.

  • A single parent would have to work 82 hours a week at minimum wage in order to afford a modest two-bedroom apartment in Asheville.

Our annual budget for working with at-risk youth is approximately $30,000. It is our goal to expand programming in 2019. Currently Heart of Horse Sense (HOHS) supports At-Risk Youth in the following ways:

Individual Therapy

Since 2014, HOHS has funded more than 25 veterans & their families. We aim to support 6-10 youth a year in individual therapy.


Over 270 WNC youth have received equine services underwritten by HOHS to date.

On average, there is demand for one 2-hour group every other week, working with children from various housing communities in WNC and alongside organizations such as Children First/CIS and more.

Groups come from Pisgah View, Woodridge, Deaverview, Shiloh and more, with hope that the money will be there when the group shows.