Saddle Up: How Southern Reins is using horses to help the disabled in the Mid-South

Local Good News

Memphis, Tenn. ( – Shelby County has more than 280,000 residents with disabilities. One organization is aiming to change lives one ride at a time. So, let’s giddy up and head to Southern Reins in Collierville to find out what they’re doing. Local 24 News Weeknight Anchor Katina Rankin has this local good news.

Meet Nike and Jill Haag. Jill is the executive director of Southern Reins Center for Equine Therapy in Collierville.

“Before Southern Reins was founded in 2015, there really weren’t any centers solely and exclusively serving people with disabilities with severe hardships,” said Southern Reins Executive Director Jill Haag.

Nike is a therapy pony and helps with those hardships.

Their mission is simple: help those in need.

“We have grown quite a lot in a short amount of time. We started with twelve (12) participants in 2015 and just to show how much need there is in the community, we have a current roster of more than two-hundred-fifty (250) people that we serve,” said Haag.

Nike and other horses like these big boys – Ozzie and Rebel, plus Lady Butters – serve individuals with physical, cognitive and emotional disabilities. 

While we can’t show you video of those who go through the program because of confidentially agreements, Jill tells us healing comes from working with the strength of the horse which teaches young children to seniors to nurture the giant beings. Nurturing helps the individual trust something larger than themselves and inspires them to succeed in all areas of their lives.

“There’s something amazing about a horse. They’re very self-reflective. They’re soothing. They’re calm. It’s amazing to be able to communicate with a horse without saying a word,” said Haag.

Southern Reins is tucked away down a country road where people can escape, feel safe. And Jill says a silent walk around the property – coming out of the stable, gliding past the front porch, and taking in nature around you – is sure to help those with disabilities leave with what she calls the 3 A’s: the ability to achieve, aspire, and amaze.

Learn more about Southern Reins HERE.

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