MEDINA, Ohio — Forever Amber Acres in Medina started out by rescuing and adopting out abused horses.
"I had a small inheritance that I wanted to do something meaningful with," said Michele Bolinger, Forever Amber Acres Farm.
With many of the animals ultimately coming back to Bolinger because of neglect, she changed course.
"I decided that I needed to repurpose the horses and give them a job in their retirement," said Bolinger.
That job: therapy.
"They can heal so many people in so many ways," said Bolinger.
Initially Bolinger’s non-profit started out with veterans.
"The horses have this natural ability that they absorb energy from people," said Bolinger.
However, the pandemic's impact on frontline workers prompted Bolinger to expand her free programming to include doctors and nurses like JoAnn Grumbling.
“We don't get this kind of opportunity," said Grumbling.
Amber Miller, who is also a nurse, took advantage of the opportunity to express her emotions.
"The unknown is just probably just the biggest thing that happened in the pandemic for everyone," said Miller.
The healthcare workers were asked to describe how COVID-19 impacted them by writing down their thoughts on colorful cards.
"The pink one was about love and family and friends and how important they are," said Miller.
And as Bolinger often sees during these sessions, the horses sent messages in the way they moved around the space.
"You can't hide your emotions from them. Whatever situation you're going through, through their body language and their movement they'll show us," said Bolinger.
Miller's horse came over just as she was holding the card she wrote “love” on.
"He just wanted me to be aware that that is a positive thing to keep in mind and a good one," said Miller.
Bolinger said we can also learn a lot about a horse's outlook on life.
"The horses teach us how to be present, how to stay in the moment, how to identify our challenges and how to move forward," said Bolinger.
The program is about moving forward and letting go with a little help from some four-legged friends.
"For me, I also gained a sense of peace with it, and comfort," said Grumbling.
Bolinger is on a mission to bring the same opportunity for healing to more frontline workers.
"I just want to help more. I feel like my job's not done, I've only just begun," said Bolinger.
If you are a frontline worker, you can contact Bolinger to schedule your free session.
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