1999 Chestnut Mare - Brands: SH inside circle | 2 over 9
Breeding: by Val D'arno out of Star Imp
Breeder: Mrs S M Harty
Nominated by: Laura Menzies
Race Record: Unplaced from five starts
Current Role: Retired and much loved former member of the Horses Helping Humans Taranaki team.
Now in her early 20s. Stella came into Laura's life in 2013 when she was a relatively new youth worker. Laura had always wanted to combine her two passions of youth work and horses and when she met Stella she knew that she was the horse to make this happen.
Laura remembers the first taiohi (teenager) that she took out to work with her and the way Stella looked at him with so much love and acceptance. She could see his whole wairua (spirit), his authentic self and she loved him wholeheartedly. When he visited her again eight years later, their connection was still just as strong (see photos).
Stella inspired Laura to bring Sue Spence's Horses Helping Humans programme to the Taranaki region and in 2020 the Horses Helping Humans Taranaki, Hōiho Hāpai Hapori incorporated charitable trust was formed. Since then they have put well over 100 taiohi through the programme and many youth workers have completed the youth worker training programme.
The programme is a therapeutic intervention that uses natural horsemanship exercises to remodel neural pathways and change old behavior patterns. The programme's objective is to improve the mental and emotional well-being of vulnerable taiohi in our community. The programme is targeted to “at risk” youth. In particular, taiohi experiencing anxiety, aggression, ADHD, depression, post traumatic stress disorder and low self-confidence, many of whom have started to disengage from education. Taiohi learn how to self-regulate their emotions and communicate confidently and assertively with others through the medium of horsemanship (from the ground, there is no riding involved).
Stella makes her taiohi feel worthy and complete, that they are someone of importance and value. They learn how to calmly and assertively be a leader and through working with her they realise what they are capable of achieving. One of Stella's taiohi shared that she had been having a panic attack and during the middle of it, she did the breathing techniques that she had learned through working with Stella and she was able to successfully calm herself down. Another taiohi shared that she gets anxiety. After her first session with Stella she attended a leadership course. There were lots of people there, so before she walked into the room, she practiced the breathing exercises she had learned through working with Stella. Doing so made her feel much more confident when she was interacting with others at the leadership course.
Stella has since retired from the programme due to her arthritis and spends her days babysitting the younger horses - she is madly in love with her 5yo ex pacer Standardbred boyfriend Down to the Bone! She is still showered in love by Laura as she lives out her retirement and ngā taiohi that she has worked with in the past still drop in to visit her and give her a brush. She is one in a million and every day Laura feels beyond lucky that she came into her life.
If you would like to empower positive change by making a tax deductible donation to Horses Helping Humans Taranaki, Hōiho Hāpai Hapori our Givealittle page is https://givealittle.co.nz/org/horses-helping-humans-taranaki-hoiho-hapai-hapori