Pinellas County nonprofit heals with horses

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — One nonprofit in Pinellas County is using the healing power of horses to help people dealing with everything from PTSD to cancer.

The mission of Shadow Serenity began by accident when a beautiful gray quarter horse named Shadow came into Jamie Kay Weil’s life.

She offered to board the horse for her best friend, Debbie Newman, while she underwent chemotherapy in 2013.

“She was very, very sick when she started coming out here and he knew it. She had ovarian cancer and he would always wrap himself around her and put his muzzle right here (on her stomach),” said Weil.

Newman lost the fight against cancer earlier this year, but her mission lives on in these stables.

During her fight against cancer, Newman and Weil founded Shadow Serenity, a non-profit that offers free horsemanship to anyone dealing with loss, trauma or illness.

“I don’t have any science behind what we do, but it works. It works for me every day. I’m dealing with the loss of my best friend and the horses know, they know and they help me every day,” said Weil.

It helped Darlene Averill as well, who found the horse Noah in one of her darkest hours after her grandson suffered an anoxic brain injury.

“I was able to talk to him like I hadn’t been able to talk to anybody else. I was able to let my feelings out instead of having to be so strong,” said Averill.

Horses can’t talk back and they aren’t able to judge and perhaps that’s why they are such incredible healers to those who seek comfort at Shadow Serenity.

Shadow Serenity will be holding a trail ride dubbed “Remembering Debbie Every Step” in February. It will take place at the Helen Howarth Community Park in Pinellas Park and is for both riders and walkers. The entrance fee is $30 and all proceeds will go towards Shadow Serenity.

Shadow Serenity does accept donations for their horsemanship program. Organizers just ask that you make an appointment before your visit.

If you would like to donate to Shadow Serenity, click here:

If you would like to learn more about Shadow Serenity, click here: provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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