We had the good fortune of connecting with Kristy Newstrom and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Kristy, how does your business help the community?
Divine Equines is a nonprofit in Soquel, CA. Our mission is to help facilitate connection between horse and human to promote confidence, belonging and independence beyond the diagnosis. We are dedicated to creating a safe space for the purpose of making a positive impact on the cognitive, physical, emotional and social well-being of individuals with functional diversity (special needs). We offer therapeutic riding lessons, both on and off the horse.

We give people with functional diversity a space where they can show up in who they are and that says yes in a world that often says no. We give choice to the choice-less.

Therapeutic or adaptive riding is an equine-assisted activity for the purpose of contributing positively to the cognitive, physical, emotional and social well-being of individuals with functional diversity. Therapeutic riding provides benefits in the areas of health, education, sport and recreation & leisure. Experiencing the motion of a horse can be very therapeutic. Because horseback riding rhythmically moves the rider’s body in a manner similar to a human gait, riders with physical disabilities often show improvement in flexibility, balance and muscle strength.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am most proud of the fact that I had a vision of opening a radically inclusive therapeutic/adaptive horse back riding center and I made it happen. We have served over 60 students since we opened last June, and each one of them has been transformed in some way. I often hear that the center is a place that has good energy and feels good to be at. Setting the intention before we opened the center that it was going to be a place where people can be seen valued and heard really helped allow the energy of grace and healing to come and surround us, and it continues to bring in the appropriate volunteers, and staff that help move those values forward.

Setting up the business was not always easy. I doubted myself a lot. ” Who am I to take on such a grand vision?” At these times I would pull on my spiritual tools or reach out to my mentors, confidants, and my partner to ask for help. They would help me see that what I was taking on was something I could do and needed to do for the greater good. Since the beginning it has been clear that this mission and vision is not about me. It’s about creating a safe space for people with functional diversity to come and be who they are. To show up in who they are and thrive! I heard from a parent once that this is one of the only places that allows her son to be exactly who he is and to control his world. For most people with functional diversity their days are controlled, managed and planned for them. At Divine Equine we create a yes environment so that students feel like they have autonomy in their lesson.

One of the biggest lessons I learned during this process was to hold onto the vision but to release the outcome. This is easier said than done, but by doing this I was able to see and hear when I needed to pivot and change directions. It allowed me to come from a place of grace which helped me stay grounded through most of the process. The other lesson I learned came from a quote my mentor Rev. D often says, “this lord of something better.” Meaning I can’t possibly know what the end result will be, so I need to be open to any and all possibilities. It could be my exact vision BUT it could also turn out to be something I could not have even imagined.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I had no idea I would be a nonprofit owner one day, so when I decided to move forward with my vision I had holes in my knowledge. I started to surround myself with people who could help me learn and grow in the areas in which I was weak. It really did take a village to help bring my vision of Divine Equine to fruition. Most if not all of that original team is still a big part of Divine Equine. The Divine Equine OG’s consist of Elisabet Hiatt, Kim Clark, Jennifer Thiede, Hiedi Cartan, Stephanie O’Mara, Karalee Richter, Cece Pinheiro, Laura Bohland, Naemi Frey, Lisa Pedro, and Jec Ballou.

My mentor, Reverend Deborah Johnson of Inner Light Ministries was teaching a series of classes during the beginning stages of my business. Her guidance and teachings really helped me ground into the vision and energy of the mission. I was able to grow into the nonprofit and birth it from a place of confidence, compassion, and integrity.

This entire group of powerful and smart women are the backbone of Divine Equine. And I am forever in gratitude for all of them.

Website: divineequinetherapy.org

Instagram: divine.equine.therapy

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kristy-newstrom/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/divineequineassistedtherapycenter

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutLA is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.