Horse races and healing

USA Today

Equestrian | Spotlight

Healing by Equines

Experts share the therapeutic effects of being with horses.

The soothing equine flair is quite something to appreciate. Researcher Peter Grey said: “We have almost forgotten how strange a thing it is that so huge, powerful and intelligent an animal as a horse should allow another, and far more feeble animal, to ride upon its back”. Author John Steinbeck said: “A man on a horse is spiritually, as well physically bigger than a man on foot.” Horses indeed lend us the wings we lack.

LAPOLO brings together two fables of unbridled hope and devotion featuring horses in their surreal healing composure-one from Indianapolis and another from Kentucky.

Cheryl Miller and her daughter Dawn, inspired by joy, love and success of a summer riding program for children with disabilities, founded Agape in 1986 which is a Greek word that means “Unconditional love”, but it was after Dawn’s tragic death when Cheryl decided to start a full-time therapeutic riding centre.

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More than a hundred miles away, in Kentucky, Cynthia Nell Ward, owner and director Divine Equine, shares similar views.

She says: “Volunteering at a therapeutic riding centre, hearing the stories from riders and parents, I knew I had to open a centre in my community.”

Cynthia proudly says: “When a rider comes here, they learn how to care for someone. They learn they have more than they thought they had. They find strength in riding. When you’re riding a horse, you are using all your muscles, using your cognitive ability to move and think at the same time. How to think ahead, how to control your anger, how to learn to release the stress, how to understand that while on the horse for one hour all your worries are melted away. It strengthens the core of your body, energizes your awareness, and motivates you to learn more.”

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Stephanie Amick, executive director Agape, when asked to talk about AGAPE, says: “We believe that lives can experience healing and joy in an environment where unconditional love and the wonderment of a horse connect, creating a haven for unbridled hope.”

AGAPE is a special place where people can connect and develop a relationship with exquisite four-legged friends, volunteers, and PATH Intl. certified instructors. Horses and humans have a special bond, and AGAPE, facilitates this experience to provide hope and healing through Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies (EAAT).

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Sharing about an elderly engagement program titled “Memory Lane”, Stephanie says: “What makes Memory Lane unique is that we utilize the natural benefits of equine interaction to facilitate a structured curriculum focused on strengthening core physical and mental objectives to improve their quality of life. Clients develop fine and gross motor skills while grooming the horses, practice mobility by leading miniatures through simple obstacle courses, and exercise memory skills by reminiscing about their own experiences with horses”.