Kaiden Rainey, 10, leans on Simba, a miniature horse at Avalon Farm’s Healing with Horses program. Kaiden, who started attending the program six months ago, said his favorite part is riding Simba, one of four horses at the farm. Photo by Chelsey Allder

By Chelsey Allder


Horses might have medicinal powers.

Kimberly Clarke sure thinks so—she uses horses as healing and therapy tools.

“I don’t profess to be a therapist,” Clarke said. “Here we do healing work and experiential learning.”
Clarke’s post-graduate work focused on wellness, stress management and training and development programs. After learning and experimenting with out-of-the-box strategies, Clarke started a life management and wellness center in Charlotte, which later developed into Avalon Farm’s Healing with Horses program.

Healing with Horses aims to improve the health of a person or family unit with experiential learning. Participants learn to communicate respect, feelings, emotion and positivity with their horse and take on farm chores in order to care for the horse. Healing, just like the program itself, is specific to each individual and can take the form of physical, behavioral, mental, spiritual and emotional. Clarke also works with genetic healing, which focuses on healing traumatic events or feelings in someone’s family history.

While working with the horses, the process is about losing control, connecting with the environment and learning from the animal to allow it to be used as a conduit of healing from God, Clarke said.

“It’s a different kind of work – very out-of-the-box,” she said. “A lot of people don’t understand it, and I don’t understand it a lot either, because the mind can get in the way.”

Healing with Horses welcomes all ages, all behaviors and all life challenges to come bond with the animals.
“Horses have insight that humans don’t have,” Clarke said.

For children who participate in the weekly camps, Clarke takes away their “tech toys” for the week so they can more fully experience the setting and focus on growth.

Avalon Farm not only helps participants of the Healing with Horses program but also helps the animals and other charities as well. All the animals on the farm are rescue animals: horses, dogs, cats, chickens, ducks, pigs and goats. The farm gives the animals a home while capitalizing on the benefits program participants can gain while working with them. Church groups and other volunteers come to help out on the farm with service projects as well.