Our Story

Where it all began...

HeartStrides was founded in 2011 by Kristy Dees and Jim Telloian after witnessing the profound impact that horses had on their daughter, Magn, who was born with Down Syndrome. Kristy had a difficult time getting Magn to crawl when she was little and doctors told her it was extremely important for Magn to get that movement in her body. After trying to force the movement ended in frustration and tears, Kristy decided to try therapeutic horseback riding. Before her first lesson, Magn shuffled out to the horse with her head hanging low. After her lesson, she got off of the horse and walked with her head held high and began signing "horse." Kristy knew in that moment that she had found something powerful.

Though the organization started out providing therapeutic riding to children and adults with disabilities, Kristy quickly found that working with horses also deepened her own recovery and ability to heal from addiction, trauma and mental health challenges. The horses taught her powerful life lessons that allowed her to improve the quality of her life, relationships and her recovery. 

After seeing the impact that lessons from the herd had on relationships and life skills, the goal of the organization began to change. Today, we are building a recovery support community at Healing Hearts Ranch. HeartStrides works closely with various organizations in the community in an effort to expand the reach of our programs and offer support to as many youth, families, and veterans as we can.

To learn more about Healing Hearts Ranch, click here.