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Horse Therapy Drives Healing For People With Special Needs

Mar 5, 2012

I've seen first hand the horse power of animal healing.  Years ago, I had to opportunity to volunteer at Quantum Leap Farm, in Odessa, Florida.  I only spent a couple of days working there, but even a few hours showed me that this was no fluke.

Volunteering there was a family affair that started with my sister, then me, and eventually my husband, Frank Wantuck.  He forged friendships with the people who worked there and those who were served there and of course, the animals, like Sonic the horse. 

Some time ago, I produced this Florida Story featuring Frank and the founder of Quantum Leap, Edie Dopking.  I knew it was a good one, because even while recording it, I was overwhelmed with the beauty and power of the story.

All of this came to mind when I heard Julie Rovner's feature on NPR about animal therapy.

Horses have also become popular therapists for people with disabilities.

"The beauty of the horse is that it can be therapeutic in so many different ways," says Breeanna Bornhorst, executive director of the Northern Virginia Therapeutic Riding Program in Clifton, Va. "Some of our riders might benefit from the connection and the relationship-building with the horse and with their environment. Other riders maybe will benefit physically, from the movements, and build that core strength, and body awareness and muscle memory."

There is an interesting side benefit for the volunteers of the riding programs.  They say they manage to forget all of their own troubles while helping other folks.