By: Vicki, StableStrides Volunteer

One day about three years ago I drove past a pasture with several horses grazing. They reminded me of the horses I knew as a child, and I felt a longing to reconnect in some way with horses, something I did not think possible since I now live in the city. 

A few days later at work I received an email of press releases, and the first item was a call for volunteers for a therapeutic riding center now known as StableStrides. I thought it was a message meant especially for me, as I have always loved helping others and to do that while having the opportunity to have personal communion with horses could not be better.  What an exciting opportunity! 

Within two weeks I was welcomed to StableStrides as a volunteer working with hippotherapy and adaptive riding clients. It is such a rewarding experience for me that I think I receive more than I give. StableStrides is an incredible organization with caring and dedicated staff members as well as an amazing force of volunteers.  I feel blessed to have met and to work with these wonderful folks and to call them my friends. But the mission of the organization and to participate in its success in helping hundreds of clients in so many ways is the real joy.  

One special client to me is named Hannah. Hannah rides Dusty, one of our precious therapy horses. When I first met Hannah she was very quiet and shy to answer questions. Hannah’s therapist’s goals for her included gaining confidence in communicating with others as well as developing core strength, balance and endurance. Hannah is making great progress. She is working on giving Dusty positive affirmations and direction in a loud clear voice. At first, Hannah was only able to ride about 20 minutes before she fatigued. She now is able to ride the full 45 minutes of her session and is able to direct Dusty through sequences and obstacles in the arena. Her mother, Lori, says her therapy has helped Hannah develop confidence, balance and strength and that Hannah can now manage transfers into and out of her wheelchair much easier.  Additionally, her walking with a cane is becoming more fluid. 

Hannah has a delightful smile and laugh that brightens my Mondays at StableStrides. At the end of her last session before Christmas break, Hannah gave Dusty a candy cane and there were sparks of joy in the eyes of both!