Editor’s note: This is one of many local stories featured in this year’s edition of Casual Country. If you missed the print edition, check it out online here.
Following her late aunt’s advice to do what you love, equine therapist Devon Heck can honestly say she is living her best life.
“I was that shy kid who couldn’t even talk. I had anxiety and depression but now I feel like I’ve created this beautiful lifestyle. I’ve found my confidence,” said Heck, her hands blackened from dirt as she massaged the back of a horse while providing treatment.
“I was living a life that was kind of blah to an extraordinary one now.”
Heck believes that success started at around age 10 from a seed planted by her aunt, who always loved horses but couldn’t ride them herself because of her MS diagnosis.
“She introduced me to horses and we shared that love of them. It was pretty special.”
Every chance she got, Heck spent time with horse and when she was 14 the two bought her first horse together when she was 14, and they enjoyed that passion together until her aunt passed away.
Heck used that experience and the lessons taught to her by her aunt to study equine therapy in Vernon for two years.
“There’s lots to learn, said Heck. “You want to get as much education as possible and help all the horses you can.”
Equine therapists are used to solve a myriad of issues in horses from bad behaviour, improved performance or maintenance to physical therapy following an injury. Equine therapy is also used to deepen the connection between horse and rider, and can also be used as a way to improve mental health.
“It’s so cool to watch people flourish with their horses and understand them. I love to help people understand their horses because I want to be able to have the resources that I didn’t have when I first started. I made so many mistakes that I wish I knew then,” she said.
“I like to get clients’ horses to a point where they don’t need me.”
Heck also offers life coaching and support to women through her business, Rodeo Woman Brand.
Heck was living in Kamloops with her partner, Tevis Chevingy, when the two decided to move to Williams Lake about five years ago because they love the smaller town feel of the lakecity, and the trees, lakes and mountains of the surrounding area.
“It wasn’t even a question,” Heck said of moving to Williams Lake. “We love it here.”
Heck said her business is full, and when she is helping clients “it never feels like work.”
“It’s my dream. I love connecting with people who have horses.”
In their free time, Heck and Chevigny enjoy hunting, fishing, hiking and camping in the summer and skiing and snowmobiling in the winter months.