Robyn Smith believes in one central message when it comes to building a relationship between horses and humans — “natural is normal.” Her passion is creating strong bonds between the large animals and their handlers and riders. That mission is even stronger in her desire to expose at-risk youth to the benefits of natural horsemanship, and working with a variety of creatures.
Hooves with Heart is the brainchild of Smith and the current president of the organization, Libby Miller. The nonprofit, which includes a twelve-week horsemanship program, is located at the beautiful Bothell facility, Holly Farms.
Robyn believes that youth interaction with horses — as well as other animals in a natural setting — can lead to an essential self-discovery. The programs also encourage more functional ways to deal with the everyday challenges today’s youth face. The small-group sessions run year round, providing those younger members of our community a much-needed nature-centric outlet. It also puts them face-to-face with the healing power of animal/human relations. You’ll find a hodgepodge at Holly Farms beyond the equine dwellers — the property also houses goats, chickens, llamas, alpacas and miniature donkeys.
Robyn, the board and the volunteer team at Hooves with Heart have created partnerships with several community organizations. The outreach has brought programs like Cocoon House, YMCA/YWCA, Treehouse, Recovery Cafe and YouthCare on board. They also accept applications from individuals — anyone who desires to gain the lessons that are offered. This includes anything from riding and responsibility to self-esteem, building relationships and self-care.
You’ll often find Robyn running at full tilt, using her skills as a registered nurse to incorporate her anatomy and physiology background into her lessons. In addition to teaching, you’ll find her balancing business, teaching, and the day-to-day management of a 17-acre facility.
Her contributions to the people she meets in both her daily life, and through Hooves with Heart, truly make her a Wonder Woman.