The Zenerjen Foundation in Geneva is helping horses and humans learn to heal each other
The hugs lasted for quite a while. One after another, guests at the Zenerjen Foundation’s Pancakes and Ponies event stood patiently in line to offer a personal thank-you to Jen Zoë Hall. It had only been a mere three hours, but lives had already begun to transform.
“That’s what we do here at Zenerjen – we shift lives,” Jen told the crowd with tears in her eyes.
Guided by the mantra, helping horses, helping people, the nonprofit Zenerjen Foundation is a sanctuary in Geneva where horses and humans rescue each other. With 11 years of experience training rehabilitated horses, Jen saw a unique opportunity to develop a new method of equine-assisted therapy.
“Our programs are designed to help people improve their own lives by helping to rehabilitate rescue horses,” she explains.
Jen and her team bring in rescued horses, heal them physically, and then nurture them to a more calm and engaged place. She then does the same with people. Through innovative daylong workshops and multi-day immersions, Jen helps people from all walks of life experience personal breakthroughs by connecting with horses. As the humans lift up the horses, the horses often do the same.
“A lot of times people get to a point of life where, due to their experiences, they feel like no therapy or form of talk can help them,” Jen says. “Zenerjen offers a different kind of therapy, using horses to help people fill the void inside them. We help people find their inner selves.”
Jen believes horses have unique personalities and feelings just like people do. The difference is that horses are more honest.
“Horses don’t pretend to like your personality if they really don’t like you. They don’t fake a connection,” Jen says. “That’s what makes this powerful. If a horse stays away from you, its reaction tells you a lot about yourself. Oftentimes people who come to Zenerjen come face-to-face with things they didn’t know or things they have suppressed.”
Peter Rodriguez, a local real estate professional, agrees.
“It’s a different approach that allows you to find out more about yourself while at the same time connecting with nature at its best,” says Peter. “I will personally say that after interacting with the horses for a bit, Jen read me like an open book. Even though my experience was brief, I truly feel like Jen helped me see some things I refused to see before.”
Zenerjen’s suite of programs offers therapy to the horse and person in many forms. When guests come to Zenerjen, they get a chance to interact with all of Jen’s horses. They quickly connect with the horse that truly matches their personality, Jen says.
“If someone is shy, I find that they often connect more with a shy horse,” she explains. “A person who is more dominant by nature may scare the shy horse. While spending time with the horse they connect with, the person gets to know more about themselves from the horse’s reaction. I have seen people connect with horses on a different level than with another person. It has helped them deal with issues and stress in their life.”
Jen knows all too well what it means to feel lost. Before starting the Zenerjen Foundation, she hit a point in her life where she felt truly broken.
“I left my husband, lost two jobs, had car problems, and was running out of savings,” Jen says softly. “In the midst of all this, my brother, a veteran, died of a drug overdose.”
Dealing with the heartbreaking loss of her brother was the wakeup call that made Jen rethink everything. She made a decision to take control of her life. While discovering a passion for horses, Jen realized that every time she was in their presence, she forgot everything that was going wrong in her life.
Today, word is getting out about Zenerjen, and everyone from entrepreneurs and professionals to authors and celebrities have traveled to Geneva to participate in Zenerjen’s programs.
“I have seen people walk out of here with completely new mind-sets, and you can see that something deep inside has changed,” Jen says.
A group that’s near and dear to Jen’s heart – veterans – has particularly enjoyed Zenerjen. The programs are beneficial for anyone, but particularly effective for veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and feelings of anxiety.
“Our veterans fight so courageously for our nation, but the effects of war can change them forever,” Jen says. “They come back with new battles we can’t comprehend. Horse therapy provides an alternative way to reach out to them.”
In the future, Jen plans to provide experiences to foster children, at-risk youth, battered women, and victims of human trafficking.
To learn more about Zenerjen, visit Zenerjen.org and “like” the Facebook page at Facebook.com/ZenergenEquestrianCenter.
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