Horses with Heart 5

Serendipity Equine Haven Employs The Healing Powers of Horses to Rehabilitate Those In Need

In east Fort Worth, right off Meadowbrook Drive, lies an 8-acre horse ranch. This ranch doesn’t breed animals for sale, though, nor does it offer trail adventures or riding lessons — at least, not in the typical sense. The horses at Serendipity Equine Haven function more as partners than products; one might refer to them as “therapists,” both emotional and physical, to the people they serve. A non-profit facility, Serendipity Equine Haven offers its services free-of-charge, and relies on donations for the continuance of its mission. This noble initiative — the only free facility of its kind in the Metroplex — exists through the efforts of owner Debbie Truman and her dedicated team.

Debbie’s own experience of trauma first opened her eyes to the healing powers of horses.

“Years ago, I contracted Lyme’s disease,” says Debbie. “I was in a wheelchair for a period and couldn’t talk; it was quite a bit of disability.”

A friend of Debbie’s convinced her to ride horses to aid with her rehabilitation. The effort yielded pronounced dividends for Debbie’s recovery process.

“When you get on a horse, it can help you re-learn how to walk, because a horse’s gait mimics that of a human,” Debbie explains. “Riding horses also stimulates the right and left portions of the brain. The horses, along with many people, helped me learn to walk and talk again. After my experience, I wanted to help other people utilize this gift that horses have through therapeutic riding.”

Serendipity Equine Haven developed over time, and Debbie’s efforts began informally as a dressage coach.

“When you have horses, kids just kinda show up,” says Debbie. “Some of the kids had issues with things like bullying, and I started teaching them dressage. Later, when the kids entered high school, my husband and I sponsored some of them in rodeo clubs. As people heard about us, children with disabilities began to seek us out.”

The creation of Serendipity Equine Haven as a non-profit began in earnest in 2007. Debbie received a lot of help, namely from her two sons, Christopher and Scott. Tragedy threatened to derail their efforts with the sudden death of Christopher at age 24.

“After Christopher was killed, we decided to continue with his shared dream of helping children and families through equine therapy,” says Debbie. “We did it in memory of him, and named the facility for my granddaughter, Serendipity.”

Serendipity: an unexpected blessing. In the years since, Debbie’s facility has specialized in serving those who have lost their funding for equine therapy.

“We take on children who don’t have money or insurance, or who have lost their grants,” says Debbie. “We work entirely off donations. I promised God that if I could feed and take care of the horses, I would not charge a penny for these services.”

Serendipity Equine Haven currently has a need for funds to construct a cover for the outdoor riding arena. In the absence of the cover, those who arrive for therapy must suffer the extremes of Texas weather. In the event of bad weather or exceptionally hot days, Serendipity must curtail what it can provide.

“The heat has left us in desperate need of a cover,” explains Debbie. “We’ll be out in the sun for five or six hours at a stretch in the arena, leading children and adults through their sessions. We sometimes have to limit our classes because we don’t have shelter.”

Serendipity Equine Haven also has need of volunteers to assist in the furtherance of its mission. The facility accepts volunteers aged 14 and up, with younger volunteers considered on a case-by-case basis. Volunteers receive training on how to interact with horses and children, and can also help out with the facility’s organic garden.

“We will take as many volunteers as we can get,” says Aundrea Peacock, Serendipity’s volunteer coordinator. “Many junior volunteers come from broken homes, and we give them a chance to redirect their energy toward something positive.”

Serendipity’s spirit of rehabilitation extends not only to riders and volunteers, but also to the horses.

“We have five rescue horses,” says Debbie, “and they’re all so grateful. They’re taught how to love through the kids and their families. Horses do have emotions and feelings, and they teach our children here how to love back.”

An atmosphere of grace and healing infuses all aspects of Serendipity Equine Haven’s mission, which Debbie Truman sums up in a few words:

“Through horses and good people, our motto is — Dreams are born and hopes are raised in healing hearts. That’s what we’re all about.”

Anyone interested in volunteering their time or making a donation can contact Debbie Truman at 817.680.5474 and debbietruman@aol.com; or Aundrea Peacock at serendipitous.peacock@gmail.com.