In 2006 we bought an empty soybean field (built a house and 24 x 10 shed for two horses) and moved to the Farm in 2007 to start our ministry - to serve children with special needs using the three dimensional movement of horses.
Riders here are as young as 18-months (hippotherapy) to 7-years old. Our staff, volunteers and horses are specially trained and well-suited for the youngest of riders. Some of the diagnoses seen in our riders are:
Autisum Spectrum Disorder, Apraxia of Speech, Developmental Delays, Cerebral Palsy, Down's Syndrome, Multiple Sclerosis, Sensory Integration Dysfunction, Visual Processing Disorder, Communication / Language Disorder.
Our program abides by all the precuations and contraindications govered by Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsmanship (PATH) Intl., and the American Hippotherapy Association.
HOW CAN RIDING A HORSE help my child?
The three-dimensional movement of the horse's walk is unique and exclusive among the animal world. The horse's walk is very similar to the way a human walks. The movement provides neuromuscular input to the rider, which impacts and improves the physical functional abilities of our riders, by activating and organizing their brain systems.
Riding a horse also affects the cognitive, emotional and psychological outlook of a child with different abilities. Riding expands a child's world - which is often full of confining boundaries; a world never seen before due to an inabiltity to sit, stand, walk or speak. The human/animal bond is full of mutual understanding, unconditional acceptance, trust, and confidence; intangible components that are difficult to duplicate with traditional forms of exercise and therapeutic activities. We replace 'white walls and mats' with blue sky, soft wind, acres of green grass, clucking chickens and frolicing goats...and of course the horses! All this sensory input is 'layered' on top of the activating and organizing three-dimensional movement of the horse, which can lead to more functional outcomes in the child's daily activities as well as more success in the classroom and with peers. We add rich sensory experiences in the arena and Sensory Garden, along with interactive play time with goats and chickens. In 2014 we were blessed to be able to build the indoor arena in order to serve our riders consistently without interruptions from inclement weather.
Our pastor, Fr. Kevin blessed our house, property, animals, and ministry. The following is an excerpt from that blessing prayer..."In His own life, Christ Jesus clearly showed us the dignity of labor...If we do our work well, and offer it to God...we build up God's creation. Our work enables us to help those in need...Let us pray that He will shower His blessing on this farm and all who work and will work in this place...either as ministers or as those ministered to. May God, who commanded us to help one another as brothers and sisters..., look kindly on all who will enter here."