Our Founding Story

Here is the inspirational story that led our Founder, Deborah Ellison, to start Horses Hearts and Hands and serve Midland/Odessa's Veteran and special needs communities:

Horses Hearts and Hands (H3), was Founded in August of 2008, by Deborah Ellison.


Deborah became a PATH Intl. Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor in 2007.

H3 received its 501(c)(3) Nonprofit status in July of 2011.

"Back in 2004 I witnessed a moment that would forever change my life. I was so inspired by this experience that I quit my job to become a PATH Intl. Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor a few years later.


It all began in the fall of that year; I met a woman who boarded her horse at the same barn where I boarded my Arabian. This woman had a teenage daughter with a brain tumor, and on a number of occasions I witnessed her daughter come out to ride her mother’s black Tennessee Walker. As I observed, I noticed that this girl needed a lot of assistance. She walked slumped over with crutches, and had inaudible speech. With much curiosity and anticipation I watched as they lifted her onto the back of this beautiful black horse. A mere 10 minutes later I noticed the most wonderful transformation. When the teenaged girl had finished riding she was a different person; she had improved speech, walked without crutches, her posture and balance were unwavering and upright, and her countenance and smiles were contagiously joyful! The change was truly remarkable, and one I would never forget. I quickly spoke with her parents about what I had witnessed. They then explained the process and technique of Equine Assisted Therapy, and it was right then and there at that very moment, I knew my calling. Watching this teenage girl “appear normal” again made me realize that combining this kind of work with horses and my love of children, is what I knew within my heart of hearts, I just had to do!"


© 2019 all rights reserved, H3

All website content authored by Deborah Ellison & Jacqueline MacFarlane