Writing has brough me a lot of great connections. One of whom, Lori Cummings, CEO of Ariel Medial Group, emailed me the other day to share a story on a local equine therapy facility near her. Even though we’ve not met in person, Lori knows this is my soft spot!
MANE (Montgomery Area Non-Tradational Equestrians) in Pike Road, Alabama is where Lori likes to spend her volunteering time. MANE is a fully accredited Premier PATH, International facility, that caters to students of all ages and level of ability. Program Director, Tiffany Atkinson uses her life-long equine experience and 15 years of marketing and management, to help ensure every student receives top-notch service and training.
Three instructors, and a hearty team of volunteers help round out the staff, that caters to 90-100 individuals weekly! As a non-profit, they often benefit from local events like the Horse N Buddy Obstacle Challenge held earlier in March, and organized by Lori.
If you’ve never witnessed therapeutic horsemanship at work, you’re really missing out. What horses and the human teams are able to accomplish with their students is nothing short of miraculous. Whether the student’s diagnosis is physical or non-physical, there’s something in it for everyone. The MANE website offers great detail on the benefits:
“Therapeutic horseback riding provides extremely important and effective intervention for people with cognitive, emotional, and/or physical disabilities. A rider straddling a horse stretches tight or spastic muscles throughout his or her body. Instructors and therapists use the three-dimensional rhythmic motion of the horse to reduce spasticity and abnormal movements, quicken reflexes, aid in motor planning, and strengthen muscles, joints, and tendons damaged by trauma or illness in their disabled patients. Riders with physical impairments or limited mobility can experience increased balance and muscle control; a wider range of motion; and improved respiration, circulation, appetite, and digestion. Confidence and enhanced self-esteem are positive by-products of therapeutic riding.”
That just addresses the physical benefits! With their Horses Helping our Heroes program, the interaction with horses, even just on the ground, is sometimes enough to bring even the most traumatized souls “back home” again. Horses have a way of understanding things within us that sometimes we don’t even fully understand, and making connections that we didn’t know were broken.
I’m so glad Lori brought this program to my attention, and I now have the opportunity to share with you. This is something we cannot talk enough about, and need to keep the conversations going! Do you have a therapeutic horsemanship program near you, or volunteer with one? Tell me about it! More information about MANE can be found on their website, http://www.maneweb.org/.