Get down to de-stress – SRQist :: SRQ Magazine article by Brittany Mattie

Horseback riding is like chicken soup for the soul.


Beyond the animal-owner relationship that many of us have lovingly experienced, some animals go even further. In therapeutic settings, they often help individuals navigate mental health issues, heal difficult times or emotional harm. Rising in popularity due to its experiential, holistic approach and evidence-based effectiveness, “equine-assisted therapy” and “equine-facilitated psychotherapy” are coming to the top of Google searches as terms neoteric for those looking for a helping hoof. Longtime recreational rider Jaymie Klauber says riding the trails is “chicken soup for the soul” for her. Whether it’s a peaceful solo getaway to decompress from life’s stressors or a fun activity to reunite with friends and husband Tommy Klauber over a picnic-sharing meal prepared at home for an afternoon outing, Jaymie says one look into a horse’s eyes and, “You’re hooked.


“Something about their eyes, it’s like they can see straight into your soul. There is such a special bond and partnership between horses and humans. So much trust is involved in riding – in part of you and the horse. So I guess that’s what makes it easy for a person to connect with them rather than another animal.

Contact Jaymie at or 941-705-3884 to arrange a ride.


When the Klaubers decided to shut down their catering and catering business, Jaymie wondered what would bring her the most joy in her next chapter, and the answer stared her straight in the eye in the form of a majestic thoroughbred of brown color. “I wanted to be with horses as much as possible, to spend more time with them, so I decided to create Epic Equine Experiences to introduce others to the incredible healing possibilities of horses.”

And sometimes the healing goes both ways. Calm, sensitive and full of stamina, Jaymie’s eight rescued horses of various breeds are mostly former racehorses or retired Thoroughbreds from the racing world. Adopted and rehomed for other equestrian pursuits, Jaymie gives them a second chance at life and a new “off-road” purpose. Between their prominent stature and free spirit, “there’s a feeling around the horses that’s just good for the mind and the soul,” says Jaymie. “Everything you do on horses is also good for your body. On the one hand, you have to be fit, otherwise riding will get you in shape quickly. The old joke is: ‘What’s the problem? The horse does everything work. But that’s not true!” she laughs. Using just about every muscle in your body, the arms direct and control, the core tightens for balance and keeps you upright, while your legs are like an alligator clip against their sides for stability during movement.

But beyond the physical fitness of riding, the emotional healing and mental release of horses is what keeps Jaymie’s riders from leaving Epic Equine Experiences. In particular, a woman with cancer who is currently undergoing chemotherapy. “She plans different days to come here from St. Pete. She comes in between her chemo treatments, on days when she knows she’ll feel good,” Jaymie shares. “She used to ride a long time ago, but got back into it while going through this cancer, as part of her recovery. It brings her so much joy and release. With their calming effect on the brain and their ability to lift their spirits and make them smile, “people are getting pretty addicted to horses,” she continues. “I see people coming out of the stable and you can just see the pressure of their day dissipate as soon as they touch a horse, it’s wonderful to see. There’s a lot of smiling involved.

Photo courtesy of @epicequineexp


Epic Equine Experiences offers riding experiences through county and state parks near the city and I-75. On well-maintained trails and explored scenic “off-trail” areas, riders will be immersed in ecological wonders, native flora and Spanish moss, Florida wetlands and swamps, hundreds of exotic bird species , wild animals and quiet meadows. Home-cooked meals and decadent drinks are provided to riders by the Klaubers – a nod to their former catering careers and a bonus for riders looking forward to an al fresco picnic in the oak forests .

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