Beyond the pet-owner relationship that many of us have lovingly experienced, some animals go even further. In therapeutic settings, oftentimes they help individuals navigate mental health struggles, heal from challenging times or emotional detriment. Growing in popularity due to its experiential, holistic approach and evidence-based effectiveness, “equine-assisted therapy” and “equine-facilitated psychotherapy” are trotting to the top of Google searches as neoteric terms for those searching for a helping hoof. Longtime recreational rider Jaymie Klauber says riding on the trails for her is “chicken soup for the soul.” Whether a peaceful, solo escape to decompress from life stressors, or a fun activity to get together with friends and husband Tommy Klauber with a potluck picnic of home-catered meals for an afternoon outing, Jaymie says one look in a horse’s eyes and, “you’re hooked.”

Photography by Wyatt Kostygan


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

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


When the Klaubers decided to close their restaurant and catering business, Jaymie asked herself what would bring her the most joy in her next chapter, and the answer stared straight at her in the form of a majestic, chestnut-colored thoroughbred. “I wanted to be around the horses as much as possible, spend more time with them, so I decided to create Epic Equine Experiences to introduce others to the awesomeness and healing opportunities of horses.” 

And sometimes healing goes both ways. Calm, sensitive and full of stamina, Jaymie’s eight rescued horses of a variety of breeds are mostly former racehorses, or retired thoroughbreds that have come from the racing world. Adopted and rehomed for other equestrian pursuits, Jaymie gives them a second chance at life and a newfound purpose “off-track.” Between their salient stature and free-spirited disposition, “there’s a feeling being around horses that’s just good for your mind and soul,” says Jaymie. “Everything you do on horses is good for your body, too. For one, you have to be fit, or riding will quickly get you fit. The old joke is, ‘What’s the big deal? The horse is doing all the work.’ But that’s not true!” she laughs. Using just about every muscle in your body, arms steer and control, the core tightens for balance and keeps you upright, while your legs are like an alligator clip against their sides for stability while in motion. 

But beyond the fitness related to riding, the emotional healing and mental release involved with horses is what keeps Jaymie’s riders from ever quitting Epic Equine Experiences. In particular, a woman diagnosed with cancer and currently undergoing chemo. “She schedules different days to get down here from St. Pete. She comes in between her chemo treatments, on days she knows she’ll be feeling well,” shares Jaymie. “She used to ride a really long time ago, but she’s gotten 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 ability to lift spirits and induce smiles, “people get pretty addicted to horses,” she continues. “I witness people get out to the barn and you can just see the pressures of their day lifting away right when they touch a horse, it’s wonderful to see. There’s a great deal of smiling involved.”

Photo courtesy of @epicequineexp


Epic Equine Experiences offers trail riding experiences through county and state parks close to town and I-75. On the well-maintained trails and scenic ‘off-trail’ areas explored, riders will be immersed in ecological wonders, native flora and Spanish moss, Florida wetlands and swamps, hundreds of exotic bird species, wild animals and tranquil meadows. Homemade meals and decadent drinks are provided for riders by the Klaubers—a nod to their former careers in food and dining, and a bonus for riders to look forward to an outdoor picnic in the oak forests.