MONROE – Janie Smith has always had a passion for horses.
Smith left corporate America to study how horses can positively influence people who want to gain better communication skills. After discovering an increase of teen suicides in Union County four years ago, Smith decided to take action.
She met four children who were close to someone that had committed suicide. She used horses to help them deal with grief.
“They started to feel good about themselves,” Smith said. “As soon as I started working with them, I knew it was time.”
From that moment, Smith decided to retire and start a charity.
Two Hearts One Language is a 12-week equine-learning program that addresses emotional and mental needs.
According to Smith, many people lack core strength because they have inner fears they might not be aware of.
“All of that mental and emotional stuff that’s inside of us shows from our body language,” she said. “The horses read and go off of our body language. If you feel bad about yourself and you’re depressed, you shut down. It shows in your posture, and you will not get that horse to move.”
Smith said this is also true for those who are abrasive or bullies.
“I’ve seen little girls who are naturally shy and reserved gain more confidences after leading around a 1,000-pound house,” Smith said. “They’re more exuberant and change their self-esteem, so I became more interested in that part of it and how horses can help people.”
Two Hearts One Language works with at-risk teenagers, families, survivors of domestic violence, post-traumatic-stress victims and more.
Christine Davis has volunteered with the program for three years and recently joined its board of directors. For more than 15 years, Davis has worked heavily to bring awareness to domestic violence after falling victim to it.
“I’m a firm believer that I experienced domestic violence to give back to my community,” Davis said. “It was not until I got involved with Two Hearts One Language that I was able to start my healing process.”
Davis hopes the program can empower other domestic violence victims and help them leave their abusers sooner.
“You sit a woman who’s been abused most of her adult or married life on the back 1,500-pound horse, and she realizes that she can ask it what she wants it to do,” Smith said. “The horse will comply with her if she carries herself correctly. It changes something inside of her.”
Blanca Hernandez, a mother of two, has been part of the Two Hearts One Language for three years. While her family dynamic is healthy and happy, she and her family noticed after attending the program that a few kinks have been improved.
“We went into this program because we’re animal lovers and wanted our children to be exposed to more animals other than dogs,” Hernandez said. “We didn’t expect what we would get out of it, and how much we learned about ourselves.”
Want to learn more?
Two Hearts One Language is located at 6623 Prospect Road. Visit https://twoheartsonelanguage.com/ or call 704-591-0227 for details.