Kristin and Laura, our Hooves with Heart educators, were making introductions on the first day of programming to the new group of YouthCare participants. Two youth shuffled about, stared at their feet and did not make eye contact. This was not surprising as we knew they most likely suffered tremendously from their immigration experiences into the United States. Kristin, Laura and Jennifer just let them be and didn’t push to engage them in conversation. Hooves with Heart’s programming is “challenge by choice,” where the youth engage and participate when they are ready. Following introductions, coffee, cider, and muffins, we migrated to the first activity: “herd observation and selection”. While they observe, the youth discover why all horses have positions and jobs in a herd, much like the work or team environments of their daily lives. Following the observation, the youth have a choice to walk into the pasture and engage with the horses or remain behind the fence-line. Do you know of another 1000lb animal that you can engage with in their own habitat, without collars, leashes or restraints? This can be extremely intimidating and often involves conquering fear. Surprisingly, all these youth were game to try. Once they entered the pasture, the horses sidled up to greet them. As the youth began to stroke the horses and get to know each other, they began to share their thoughts with the Hooves with Heart staff and other participants. Later in the arena, while grooming, the youth once again became quiet. But the atmosphere was much different than that morning, almost meditative, rather than detached. The participants were completely entranced by their respective horses, running their hands through manes and observing the horses’ reactions to movement and energy. By the end of the day, they were laughing, chatting, and enthusiastically anticipating their return next week; taking the first steps towards restoring healthy communication.