To ensure that equine-assisted psychotherapy (EAP), provided in a positive environment with caring professionals and an unsurpassed standard of care, is accessible to those in need.
It is an honor and a duty to enable those put into harm's way protecting us to enjoy their lives to the fullest when their mission is over.
Horses Healing Heroes™ (HHH™) is a fully accredited, 501(c)(3) organization that assists veterans, police officers, firemen, prison guards, children, anyone suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), by utilizing the proven techniques of Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP). We abide by industry standards and support the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA), whose goal is committed to setting the standard of professional excellence in the emerging field of EAP.
EAP combats the damaging effects of traumatic events suffered by those put in harm’s way. It allows them to overcome their fears and to build confidence through working with horses. Horses, as large and as powerful as they appear to be, are still prey animals and, as such, require a lot of tender, loving care to overcome their natural instinct to run from the unknown, much like people suffering from PTSD. By working with and developing a relationship with horses, our clients overcome their fears.
Horses Healing Heroes™ was created out of the desire of the founder Deborah Larson to honor her father, a WWII decorated veteran, who, upon returning home, suffered most of his adult life from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Crystal's Retirement Sanctuary and Therapeutic Equine Legacy (CRSTEL), named for the founder's beloved horse Crystal is a retirement facility for elderly horses or those with chronic illness. It is also the home of Horses Healing Heroes™. The ranch is located in Herald, CA, just east of the Sacramento/San Joaquin Valley and west of the renowned Shenandoah Valley Wine Country.
Horses Healing Heroes™ utilizes the healing effects of horses to aid in the growth and mental health of humans for treatment of psychological trauma, social and emotional abuse and other life challenging issues through therapy, education, coaching and support.
Providing heroes of all kinds a path towards healing to:
Release limiting emotions and behaviors
Readjust through self awareness and self discovery
Reconnect to life and others
Healing doesn’t mean the damage never existed; it means the damage no longer controls our lives.
Working with a horse is calming; when working with a horse your focus is on it rather than your problems. Our founder Deborah Larson learned this lesson firsthand. Her experience was the catalyst for creating Horses Healing Heroes™ and CRSTEL Ranch.
In 2006/2007, while her husband Steven was deployed to Iraq with the Army National Guard, Deborah got back into trail riding. After returning from an eight-day, horse-camping trip in Yosemite National Forest, she decided the empty horse paddocks needed to be filled, and that is exactly what she did.
She acquired three horses while Steven was in Iraq: Crystal, Warrior, and Tuff. The horses, together with her two Borzoi, Don Diego Incognito and Zorro San Antonio, and her cat, El Kabong, helped lessen the emptiness in her heart. Deborah began working with the horses, using them to enrich the later years of her father's life, who had enjoyed horses as young child in Missouri. Aside from her career in wine sales and taking care of her father, her free time was spent developing the Horses Healing Heroes™ program.
Tuff was entrusted to Deborah while his owner was going through cancer treatment. His owner is now in recovery, and they have been reunited. Steven rode Warrior on trail and took him team penning a few times between deployments. Warrior is currently a “pasture prince”.
Crystal was a once-in-a-lifetime horse, a 23-year-old, extremely well-trained, buckskin mare. Shortly after Steven’s return, during a horrible wind and rain storm, she met an untimely death as a result of a tragic accident. She had filled the hole in Deborah’s life while Steven was deployed, and she had done her job well. With Steven’s return, her soul was needed elsewhere.
A month prior to losing Crystal, Deborah lost her 92-year old father, Alpha Pointer. Al was a decorated and disabled WWII Veteran, serving as an Army Infantryman in New Guinea. He had battled and was medicated for service-related physical issues, depression, alcohol abuse, and chronic anxiety attacks (now known to be Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD) since his discharge in 1945. In his later years, he also suffered from dementia.
Steven and Deborah were his primary caregivers, and he came to live with them in 1995, a few months after they were married and shortly after his wife of 49 years passed away. Although the dementia had become quite acute during his last years, he loved being wheeled out to see the horses. They always brought a smile to his face stirred memories from his childhood in rural Missouri.
As a soldier and sailor, as a soldier’s wife, and as caregivers to a disabled veteran, Steven and Deborah have first-hand experience with PTSD and the power of a horse to heal. Horses Healing Heroes™ and CRSTEL Ranch were created to honor Alpha and Crystal.