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Former journalist uses horses to heal

Equine therapy image

Bethann Coldiron learned at an early age about the comfort of a horse. Now, she helps others understand that comfort as an equine assisted therapeutic riding instructor.

"I started riding around the age of 5. I do not come from a 'horsey' family. My passion for horses was something I developed all on my own," Coldiron said. "I grew up in Fort Worth, the city of cowboys and culture, and I think that really contributed to my love of horses because there are so many big horse shows that come to Will Rogers Coliseum."

Coldiron, a 2013 Weatherford College graduate, helps people with various mental, physical and behavioral disabilities. She lives in Little Rock with her husband, Tyler Brantley, who is enlisted in the Air Force.

"The best part of my job is seeing a client come in, they might be having a bad day and are in the middle of a meltdown, then they see the horse and their mood instantly changes,” she said.

"Horses can be incredibly powerful facilitators of healing. They bring a feeling of calm, and I think it really surprises some people to see this huge animal who acts more like a puppy than a wild animal."

Coldiron graduated from WC with an associate in applied science degree in equine production and management. After that achievement, she decided to further her studies, and in 2015 she graduated from Tarleton State University with a bachelor of science degree in communications with an emphasis in journalism.

She worked for several years as a journalist, finding success and winning awards. She was even editor of the international equine magazine "Cutting Horse Chatter."

"I ultimately left behind my career as a journalist…the stress was starting to take a toll on my physical and mental health,” she said. “Now I get to play with horses all day. Who wouldn’t love that?"

Coldiron still competes, currently on the Appaloosa circuit. She and her 5-year-old gelding Knight In White, whose barn name is Monty, compete in ranch riding, ranch pleasure and ranch trail.

"He’s pretty much a deluxe ranch horse,” she said. “I’m hoping to start doing some cutting training on him next year.”

In 2019 they were among the top ten at the Appaloosa National show, which she said was "a big deal and still one of my best memories."

"He’s a really amazing horse, and I’m so thankful I bought him when he was 3," she continued. "We plan on going to the 2020 Appaloosa World show this coming October and I’m hoping we make the top 10 again."

Coldiron gives much credit to Weatherford College for her success and encourages others interested in the equine industry to follow her lead and attend the school.

"Someone who chooses to get a degree in equine management and production has a lot of choices when they graduate. I’d urge anyone who pursues this degree to go on and get either a bachelor's degree or a special certification, such as a certified riding instructor or breeding specialist," she said. "That will really enable you to hone your skills and will make it easier to find a good job. It’s a great degree for anyone who wants to go on and get a B.S. in equine science.

"My goals for the next five years include deepening my skills as a therapeutic riding instructor, becoming a better rider and winning more titles and spending more time with my family."

by Rick Mauch