Free Horse Therapy Program Offers First Responders ‘Peace and Relaxation' in NH

A longtime nurse said the 60 minutes spent with the UpReach horses is a much-needed and well-deserved escape

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A free program called Caring Connections invites first responders to spend an uninterrupted hour with the horses at UpReach Therapeutic Equestrian Center in Goffstown.

“I hope that they leave here with a sense of peace and relaxation and remember what that feels like,” program director Karen McGraw said.



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It’s a priceless gift these horses are giving to those on the frontlines of the pandemic.

“I can’t even put it into words, it’s just very, very awesome,” said Linda Dwyer of Merrimack, New Hampshire, who has been a nurse for 40 years.

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The last year has been the hardest of her career. She said the 60 minutes spent with the UpReach horses is a much-needed and well-deserved escape.

“I mean, they have these big, beautiful eyes, and they’re so gentle, and you look at them and start petting them and it seems like the stress just drains out of you,” Dwyer said.

Maybe it’s their graceful movements, or their trusting nature. Whatever it is, McGraw might even say it’s magical.

“It’s super cool to see the transformation from the time someone walks in the door and then what happens in that hour, when they can let go,” she explained.

More than a dozen flags honoring people of service were damaged just a few weeks after they went up in Barnstable, Massachusetts.

These gentle giants are doing their part to melt away the weight of a global pandemic.

“Being with the horses and at the barn is something you have to go and try to realize how beneficial it is,” Dwyer said.

Over the first four weeks of the program, 28 people have taken advantage.

The team at UpReach is hoping to get the word out that they’re here for any first responder who needs a break. To find out more, visit

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