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April 24, 2023 | Tom Ballard

Sara Garnett has always been a horse person

Garnett is combining that passion with a real-life challenge she and many others face – depression - in a new start-up named Raised Valley Ranch.

“I’ve always been a horse person,” Sara Garnett says, explaining that “my grandparents raised horses, and I always wanted to be at their barn.”

Now, the new resident of Blount County – she moved there with her family two and one-half years ago – is combining that passion with a real-life challenge Garnett and many others face – depression.

She’s the aspiring entrepreneur behind Raised Valley Ranch, which captured the Audience Choice Award during the inaugural “Launchpad Pitch Event” organized by the Sky City Entrepreneur Center and held in February in Maryville (see article here.)

Garnett told us that she was diagnosed with depression while still in high school. A decade later – some 10 years ago, she developed the vision for equine therapy. “When I was around horses, I never experienced anxiety,” Garnett says, adding, “Horses don’t judge.”

She explains that horses connect emotionally with each other as well as people. “They see what is behind what the person is portraying.”

Garnett put her initial vision for equine therapy on the shelf until returning to therapy in 2018 where she says she decided that “I’ve got to do something for myself.”

Now, she and her family live on 4.7 acres of land that they purchased about a year ago, and Garnett is focused on implementing her vision. “My ultimate goal is a facility,” she explains.

To do so, Garnett needs funding to clear trees on the property, install fencing, grade the area where the arena would be, remodel the barn that was used for crops to support horses, and acquire up to four horses.

Noting that she is not a trained therapist, Garnett says the sessions she will be offering will be focused on life coaching.

“I really want to be able to support the community,” she explains. “I’d like to be able to help people overcome what I have.”

Part of that vision involves determining the best way to provide a discount for individuals who can benefit from equine-focused activities but lack the necessary financial resources.

“It will happen,” Garnett says confidently.

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