If you stand back and watch Kendra Loring, who runs a business in the South Valley that uses horses for therapy, it’s clear she has a certain way with both animals and humans. She’s good-natured but direct, patient but motivated, and everyone and everything around her seems to respond in kind.
This approach has helped Kendra develop a strong list of clients—everyone from veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to kids with disabilities—who often visit her weekly to ride and work with horses as a way to calm anxiety.
“I love partnering horses and people,” says Kendra, 46. ”It’s incredible to see how the horses can help.”
Kendra built her business—which is called Enchanted Equine Adventures—over time. She’s the sole owner, so learning the ropes of everything from funding to taxes has been hard. Luckily she’s had lots of local help.
She’s gone to Accion for a micro-loan, used business resources at WESST and SCORE Albuquerque, and also went through the 10-week CNM Ingenuity IGNITE Community Accelerator back in 2017. During the Accelerator—which helps entrepreneurs with everything from customer identification to marketing—she worked with a coach to focus the business, eventually landing on stress-relief as the main service she should offer.
“Narrowing things down was definitely eye opening,” she says. “It was great to have that coaching, and I’ve continued to stay in touch with my mentors a year later.”
Kendra’s narrowed focus has helped her grow, and it’s helped her reach more people who benefit from working with and riding horses. She says horses are particularly well attuned to human feelings and can read our breathing to tell whether we’re anxious, mad, or just having a bad day. Not every horse is meant for therapy, but Kendra has thoughtfully selected a group that can work with the rider until they start to feel better.
“These guys know their job,” she says.
Cinnabar is a particularly good example. She’s a thoroughbred that Kendra adopted from the New Mexico Horse Rescue at Walkin N Circles Ranch, and this past Wednesday she was the horse Kendra used for a weekly session with Hannah Ninneman, 17, who’s autistic and moderately intellectually disabled. Hannah, who’s been working with Kendra and her horses for about a year, rode around the grounds, loving every minute of it.
“When Hannah is having a bad day, it’s obvious the horses can tell,” says Erika Ninneman, Hannah’s mom. “They’re incredibly patient, and everything from brushing to riding is really calming for her.”
Erika also appreciates Kendra’s approach during the visits.
“It takes a really special person to work with special needs kids,” Erika says. “The patience and understanding you need can’t really be taught. You either have it or you don’t, and Kendra definitely has it.”
Going forward, Kendra hopes to grow because running a horse business is expensive. She’ll need to find new clients, but is also excited about broadening the reach of her services. She already has plans to expand the summer kids’ program and will also be running a special class for first responders who can use the class to calm their work-related anxiety.
“Running a small business is certainly a struggle,” she says. “But I couldn’t be happier.”