Can You Make A Horse Smile? You Bet! Here's How...

by EQUUS Foundation
Mar 25, 2013

Because of horses, first words are spoken . . .

Betsy and Rowan
Betsy and Rowan

Rescue, Rehab, Retrain & Re-home – these are the four cornerstones of the EQUUS Foundation and at the heart of our mission to ensure the well-being of horses and enable the therapeutic use of horses for people with special needs.

Since the beginning of civilization, horses have been vital to human survival. Although their role has changed, they continue to steal our hearts and imagination.  Horses are extraordinary as athletes and as humanitarians.

The EQUUS Foundation partnered with the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) to establish the Horse Stars Hall of Fame to HONOR the contributions of amazing horses, SHARE the stories of their athletic and humanitarian feats and BUILD a more informed and compassionate America that values the impact of horses in our lives.

Betsy is one of the 62 amazing horses inducted into the virtual Hall of Fame in March 2013. Betsy is the story of a horse that had a life changing impact on the life of one autistic child named Rowan, the son of Rupert Isaacson and Kristen Neff. Because of Betsy's special bond with Rowan, Isaacson was inspired to make the documentary film, THE HORSE BOY. He wanted to share the story of their family's journey from Texas to Mongolia in search of that illusive something that would heal their son.

"A lot of the parents go to the ends of the Earth in their own living rooms every day," Isaacson said. "I mean, we had more stressful car rides to the grocery store than any of the stresses and challenges of the trip to Mongolia."

THE HORSE BOY has been called "a lyrical, heartbreaking, and deeply stirring meditation on the mystery of autism" (Entertainment Weekly). That "lyrical" journey began with Betsy and how she, a patient, bay mare, showed the way into Rowan's world. Through the movie and companion book, Betsy has influenced and inspired many thousands of people around the world to try equine therapy.

The story began the day Rowan darted away from his parents through the fence separating Isaacson's property from his neighbor and literally threw himself on his back under Betsy's hooves. "I thought he was going to get
trampled," recalled Isaacson. The resulting bond between them was so direct, immediate and evident that Isaacson, a life-long horseman, knew that Betsy would forever change his son's life.

Because of Betsy, first words were spoken. Read Betsy’s story at



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Organization Information

EQUUS Foundation

Location: Westport, CT - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Lynn Coakley
Westport, CT United States
$122,440 raised of $250,000 goal
413 donations
$127,560 to go
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