Celebrating horses

Healing Horses Kauai Executive Director Heather Phelps says there is something special, and therapeutic, about horses.

They seem to know, almost instinctively, what a person is feeling and can respond to almost any situation on the fly, whether is it fleeing or walking up to a person to greet them. 

And that is why, she said, she and other Healing Horses volunteers are creating programs that seek to improve the physical, mental, social, and emotional well-being of island youth and disabled community through equine-assisted activities. 

“Horse have this innate sense that is really strong and they really have the power of compassion,” Phelps said. “They’re extremely gentle with people who have a disability and understand — they know and see it coming.”

Phelps said she and other program volunteers are hosting the organization’s second Summer Gala, beginning at 6 p.m. Monday at Hukilau Lanai.

She is hoping to raise $25,000, which would help to upgrade the organization’s facilities and improve their equipment. That money, she added, would also be used to offset the costs needed to care for the organization’s 11 horses and haul them to events. 

To expand these programs and kick off plans to build a community riding facility on 15 acres of land on the Wailua side of the Kapaa Bypass Road, Phelps and other volunteers held their first Healing Horses Summer Gala a year ago at Hukilau Lanai. 

That sold out fundraiser, Phelps said, raised about $16,000, which allowed the organization to create a program that connects their three miniature horses with kupuna in long-term care facilities and keiki in schools. 

Phelps said she still finds it difficult to hold back tears when thinking about how the miniature horses provided kupunas and their families with the chance to spend time together — a memory that Phelps treasures from her hanabata (childhood) days. 

“The feeling that you get is just a huge sense of community and family,” Phelps said. “It just seems like these little horses just bring people together.”

This year’s fundraiser will include a buffet dinner, pupus, silent auction and live music from The Bootleggers, a rock and roll, blues, rockabilly, southern rock and country cover band. 

Info: Phelps at 635-4720 or hhkauai@gmail.com

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