Hoffman Homes Resident Finds Comfort, Connection through Magee the Horse

Magee has helped countless youth work through experienced trauma.

In 2019, Diakonie ran an endearing story about Magee, a registered American Paint Horse who had just completed his trial period and become part of Hoffman Homes for Youth’s Equine-Assisted Therapy Program.

Over the past five years, Magee has helped countless youth residents thanks, in part, to his stunning blue eyes and gentle personality. The youth in the program gradually build relationships with the horses, finding the horses don’t bully, judge, or hold grudges. The program has been successful in helping many youth work through experienced trauma.

More recently, Magee, now 13, was instrumental in helping another 13 year old — Tracy*, who was admitted into Hoffman Home’s Psychiatric Residential Treatment Program in Spring 2023.

When Tracy was admitted to the program, one of her goals was to complete a prior commitment of community service hours. Working with her Hoffman treatment team, Tracy chose to participate in a barn management group, where youth assist in cleaning the barn and caring for the horses.

For several weeks, Tracy struggled with making positive choices and learning the guidelines of caring for horses. She also faced a medical condition that impacted her daily activity. Initially, she was uninterested in the horses, but thanks to support and patience — and possibly Magee’s gentle nature — she soon began to enjoy her time in the barn. 

Any opportunity she had, Tracy was in the barn visiting Magee, her favorite horse. In the weeks leading up to her discharge, she was consistently available for sessions, and she was able to process through the difficulties she was facing. Tracy was successfully discharged from the program and plans to seek out volunteer opportunities at a local barn.

Equine-assisted therapy is one of several animal-assisted therapy programs at Hoffman Homes, whose campus houses and treats children with severe mental health diagnoses and behavioral issues due to trauma, abuse, neglect and loss. The therapy horses in the program live on Hoffman Homes’ 192-acre property in a nine-stall barn. The grounds include seven pastures for turn-out and an indoor riding arena for riding sessions and horse-handling activities.

*Name changed to protect privacy.

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