The most fascinating book I have read in quite a while is Riding Home by Tim Hayes (St. Martin’s Press, 2015). The subtitle explains the theme of the book. The Power of Horses to Heal, with a forward by Robert Redford, ultimately proclaims the amazing value of therapeutic riding for the mentally and/or physically disadvantaged.

However, the reason I was so captivated by this book is that each chapter, by itself, is an informative and moving story. The only thing that links the chapters on equine behavior, autism, PTSD in veterans, divorce and its effect upon children, and other problems, is the striking benefit horses can provide to troubled humans.

A few years ago I was invited to visit a therapeutic riding stable that specializes in autistic children. I met a little girl who, on her second visit, said the first word she had ever uttered. “Horsey!” She was six years old at the time.

I also met an 18-year-old son of a man who regularly volunteers his services at the stable. The father told me that the horses had “brought my son out of his shell.” He said the improvement in his son who had been coming to the stable for many years was “unexpected and dramatic.”

If horses can have such a profound effect upon the handicapped, what can they do for those of us who are fortunate enough not to be handicapped?