MORGANTOWN, Ind. — You can bet Lisa Bowman will be watching the Kentucky Derby this weekend on WTHR.
"Yes!" said Bowman, the founder and president of Hope for Hearts Horse Farm in Morgantown.
While Bowman knows how physically dominant the Derby horses can be, she sees a different side of these animals every day.
"Those horses are very powerful and have a lot of speed, but I also think about the power that my horses here have because they have the power to change lives," Bowman said. "And that's really what we're here for. You can't put a price tag on that power to transform somebody's life and to help them improve in their confidence."
Bowman is certified as an equine experiential education facilitator, and she believes there has never been a better time for people to come to her Brown County farm off State Road 45, west of Bean Blossom, to see how her horses can improve your overall well-being.
"With the world we live in today, having that sense of calm is not something we have very often, so it is a great thing for people to be able to just be in the moment," said the Ball State graduate. "I think that's the greatest thing that horses can teach us, to just to be in the moment, not worrying about what we're going to do tomorrow, or what we need to do as soon as we get home, but just be present with them."
Bowman is in the process of writing her first book for the equine assisted learning world.
"Horses are amazing creatures," Bowman said. "They have just as many personalities, moods and behaviors as we do as humans. Because they're prey animals in the wild, they're very intuitive, so they pick up on what someone's feeling inside, not what they're showing on the outside. There is no faking it with a horse, and they are great to help you really realize what your limiting thoughts, beliefs and patterns are, and to help you be able to change those so that you can achieve the outcome you want."
The Hope for Hearts Horse Farm was founded in 2012 to provide a peaceful place of restoration and renewal through unique opportunities with horses that can strengthen and further develop lives.
"We say rhythm brings relaxation, and grooming a horse is very rhythmic, and it's also a time to connect," Bowman said. "It really helps people to calm down."
Amy Poynter has been a part of Hope for Hearts since the beginning, and she's seen the transformation these horses can influence.
"When you start getting people in here to experience the program, they're very confused at first and don't really understand what they're about to experience," Poynter said. "Then, you watch them through the day doing these programs, and you see how they change. They leave just a completely different person because they realize how powerful the horses are and what they can reflect back to you about yourself."
There are seven horses on the Hope for Hearts farm, which is seven more than when they started nearly a decade ago. But Bowman knew from her own personal experience that owning and running a horse farm would be a great idea.
"I was helping at a farm that my daughter was riding at, and I had went through a time that totally shattered my self esteem," Bowman said. "The Lord just showed me how he used those horses to help me gain my confidence back in a really short time, and He laid it on my heart to share that with others. So we actually piloted the program at that farm. We didn't have a horse. We didn't have a location. We put our house on the market and ended up here in Brown County, and we got our first horse less than six months later. We built this barn, and then, we opened the following April. It's been a great nine years to see how it's really grown."
Bowman offers both individual and group sessions for people who want to spend time with her horses.
"Our main program is our 'Hope for Hearts' program, and that's our one-on-one program," Bowman said. "We see people, adults and children who are struggling or feeling disconnected in their personal or work life, so they work one-on-one with a horse and a certified facilitator to help strengthen and grow and develop whatever area they're focusing on.
"And then, we also have a 'Journey to Leadership' program, which is our program for organizational groups. We actually do an assessment of all the team members coming, and then, we customize a workshop for them with specific course activities for the areas that they want to work on," Bowman explained. "We also have certified facilitators that debrief each one of those activities. When the group leaves, they actually leave with an action plan to implement back in the workplace. Then, we follow up with them 60 days later to see what kind of outcomes are seen from that work plan — the things that they learned from the horses and how they implemented them."
And the responses from these groups and individuals have been extremely positive.
"We actually measure outcomes, and we had 100% improvement in people's level of confidence," Bowman said. "One of our most recent groups said that their team will be forever changed by the workshop that they had here at the farm, working with the horses because of the insights they gained."