Saturday, April 14, 2012


"Imagine a place where people of all ages with special needs can be themselves. Imagine a place where the disabled can leave behind their crutches and wheelchairs and other impediments to soar to freedom. Imagine a place where dreams really do come true."

So sayeth the wonderful people who run the Helping Hands Therapeutic Riding Center, a local organization here that is doing fantastic things with some fantastic people.

I got a call a few days ago from a friend of mine, who said, "Hey - I want you to see this place. You'll like it."

I had never heard of "this place" - but always open for new experiences, I jumped in Mike's truck when he pulled up Friday, and off I went for a private tour of the HHTRC.

We met up with Ray, the President of the Board of Directors, who took me around, explained everything, and answered about a bazillion questions that I threw at him.

Here at the HHTRC, therapists and volunteers work with people of all ages with horse therapy - also known as "hippotherapy". could be a child with autism, where HHTRC makes it possible to encourage learning, verbal & nonverbal expression, positive social interaction, and bonding with the horses. could be a veteran suffering from PTSD, where HHTRC offers equine activities and therapies. could be a child in a wheelchair, where HHTRC uses the multi-dimensional movement of the horse to provide a dynamic, unique and motivating therapy.

Currently, HHTRC is working with over a hundred children and veterans, with approximately 16 specially-trained horses. I saw their indoor arena, as well as their pastures, stables, and dressing areas.

The indoor the children can still have lessons in inclement weather...

The wheelchair ramp, so the child can be transferred to the horse easily...

It was quite impressive.

Just one of their beautiful horses...all of which go through extensive training and testing to insure their personalities are good with the children and veterans...

I left with a whole new appreciation for what people can do with special-needs children, as well as the special people that work with them.

I may have found just another area to give back, as well. Having worked previously with children with special needs - and especially autism - this, I have to say, was pretty cool.

Check it out - here is their LINK for more information.




Anonymous said...

It's funny you should post this today. The big story here in Albuquerque is about a young boy with CP who has been getting hippotherapy for two years. This year when the insurance forms were filled out it said "hippotherapy" rather than "general therapy". The claim was denied by the insurance (Lovelace) as an "experimental therapy". Unfortunately, there are so many people who have benefitted from this therapy... and so many who would... but insurance is denying coverage.

Sherri O said...

This is weird timing...and it's funny, because a lot of the questions I asked was about insurance coverage. I had been told that most private insurances will cover it, as well as Medicaid. That is soooo sad about the denial of coverage...what the HHRTC does, is offer scholarships to kids/veterans who don't have insurance coverage - so that ALL patients can benefit from it who need it, regardless of their insurance.