There is nothing comparable to the benefits of bringing together a child, therapists, volunteers and a horse. The social emotional as well as physical skills developed blindside everyone because it appears that they are just having fun!
I have been volunteering with Exceptional Equestrians for 5+ years. I was drawn to the organization originally because I have a Down Syndrome grandson who lives in another part of the state, but wanted to help similar children in this area. I also grew up in a horse-crazy household and remain so to this day.
I have found the organization, staff and particularly the riders to be exceptional in every way. I look forward to an exciting future for EE and its riders. It is a jewel in the community.
I have been a volunteer at Exceptional Equestrians for about 6 years now. When I was a sophomore in high school I was inspired by a particular rider at EE, and I wrote about her. This is my story.
The smiles. The laughs. That moment. The first time we met was, well, unplanned. I had been working there for over a year when we met—“there” being Exceptional Equestrians. She walked in with her fiery red curls pulled into a ponytail and the little frizzy edge ringlets hanging down the sides of her face. While others noticed how she was unable to speak, I noticed how she brought a unique energy when she walked in. I knew she was going to be important to me.
The first things I learned about her was her love for hair pulling and high five giving. With an iron grip, she took everyone by surprise with her strength and her speed whenever she reached for our hair; however, unlike her hair pulling, her high five giving made everyone around her smile. As if giving high fives were her shiny trophy she won for being herself.
The second thing I learned was her name: Chloe. When Chloe first started, she was unable to verbally speak, sit up straight, or perform tasks that were asked of her. She knew the words, like they were right in front of her and she just could not quite reach them. Every time she was there we worked hard, and for months it seemed as if there was no progress being made. I could see the fatigue in her eyes, and I knew there were times she wanted to quit. But we continued to work. I knew. I saw it. Somewhere in her, she knew exactly what we were asking of her, and she just could not do it, but I could see she wanted to. There were days it felt as if we were working hard and nothing was happening. As if she gave it her all just to feel worn and exhausted. As arduous as it was, we continued to work with her, and she continued to push on. She never gave up. Ever.
We began making some progress. First with the rings on a stick. She would take one vibrant colored ring, and place it on the long red stick. Some days she chose sunny yellow or flamingo pink, and other days she chose a midnight blue ring. After rings came the end to the pulling of people’s hair, although, every once in awhile she still loves giving your hair a good tug when you are least expecting it. Following that came the holding of a ball while stabilizing her core all by herself. Chloe knew she was doing it. I could see it. Every once in a while she would get this gleam in her eye. A gleam of determination. Next came her attempting to play catch with the ball, she would reach it out, and then take it back. And every time she did something like this, I could see her happiness. She knew what she was doing, and she was happy with herself too.
Finally came that moment. The moment that brought hope. Chloe moved her hand towards her horse’s silky brown mane, and she told the horse to “walk on.” She did not use her words like many children do. She did not sit back like it was easy and as if she did it like most children. No. Chloe gently patted the horse’s mane twice and smiled. Her smile had not changed from what it had been two minutes prior to this moment. Same fiery red curls, same gleam in her eye, and same beautiful smile on her face. The other people around did not recognize this as an amazing moment, they simply thought she was moving her hand. But I did. This little girl who was unable to speak had left me speechless. All she did was smile, but I could see it. She knew what she did. And with those two very special pats, her horse began to walk.
EE has been an enormous blessing to my children and family!! We couldn’t ask for more compassionate therapists!
I first learned about Exceptional Equestrians over 16 years ago when looking a community volunteer project for a service organization I belonged to. My love of horses and working with people made the organization an appealing choice. Once I started volunteering there, I realized there was so much more happening at this special place. I was amazed by the incredible work they do and the healing that occurs though the use of horses in their programs. I was also amazed by the passion and dedication of all who are a part of the organization. They also stand out among other therapy programs with licensed therapists and certified instructors. I stayed on as a volunteer and also joined the Board of Directors. It is hard for me to put in to words how special this place is. From the staff, the volunteers, the riders, the families, the horses, and all involved, this is truly an exceptional place
Being a part of Exceptional Equestrians is truly an honor! It has been amazing to see all the children, families and adults that have created such a bond with their unique therapy partner - "their horse". Over the past 20-plus years I have been a volunteer and enjoyed several terms as a board member. It has been wonderful to see where Exceptional Equestrians started with one horse and a couple volunteers for several children to where it is now with at least 13 horses and over 200 volunteers helping over 100 individuals. To be able to hear the children and their families tell their stories about the incredibly positive impact that Exceptional Equestrians with their horses, staff and volunteers have made in their lives is truly rewarding! To see their smiles while they are on horseback is priceless!
I fell in love with this organization three years ago and haven't looked back! As a local librarian, I am always looking to collaborate with members of the business community for programs at my library. When I initially reached out to EE to schedule a day for them to visit and talk about the organization, I was invited for a tour. I came in as a Librarian making a community connection, but left with a volunteer application and was asked to be on the Board later that year. There was just something magical about watching miracles happen right there in the barn, and I knew it was something I wanted to be involved in. These horses and humans are changing lives, every single day.
I have been involved with the Exceptional Equestrians board for the past 1.5 years. I work in healthcare and get to see patient care on a daily basis, and while all care is meaningful, Exceptional Equestrians serves an extra-special patient population. Not only are the specific services that EE provides scarce, but the organization touches patient lives physically and mentally in a way that very few healthcare organizations can match.
I have had the opportunity to meet some of EE's patients and watch therapy sessions, and even just the smile on everyone's faces is awe-inspiring. Their lives are enriched by the care that EE gives. I pride myself in working with organizations who truly believe in their mission statement and do more than just hang it on the wall. They actually live by it, and EE goes beyond its mission. I have a friend who is in need of services like those that EE provides but lives in another area and does not have access, so I see how special the organization really is and how they offer hope and healing to patients and parents.
Everyone in the organization is dedicated to making a difference in their patients' lives. There are more families out there who yearn for care like this so we need to keep raising awareness!
I have rejoined the board for a second time because I truly believe in what Exceptional Equestrians does for kids and their families. I have witnessed the positive transformation hippotherapy has on the riders!
I am excited for the future of Exceptional Equestrians and and proud to be a board member.
As a physician for special needs kids, I refer patients to EE all the time, and am proud to serve on their board! They are a well organized, caring, safe, experienced organization, and make this unique therapy "fun" for kids. Their large volunteer base speaks to their great non-profit mission and commitment to serving their community. They have a great facility for year round sessions as well. Can't say enough about their staff as well.... Great organization.
Exceptional Equestrians is an amazing organization. The staff, volunteers, donors and families are truly making a positive impact in our community. Witnessing the bond between a horse and a patient alongside the impact it makes on that person’s life is truly life changing.
My love for horses and being active in my community is why I joined the volunteer staff at Exceptional Equestrians. Truly one of the best decisions I ever made and one of the most rewarding, too.
The staff and volunteers are simply the most dedicated and caring individuals I have ever met and it shows in the growth, development and abilities of each the riders. My love for Exceptional Equestrians mission and the positive effects it has on its clients is why I decided to join the board.
The healing power of horses and the positive effects of equine therapy are undeniable. I have seen the most amazing transformations amongst riders and the joy it brings to them and their families. Truly an inspiring and vitally necessary organization. I could not imagine my life with our Exceptional Equestrians
My daughter, Dotty, started riding horses there when she was 2 years-old and it has been a blessing to our family! She has Cerebral Palsy and riding the horses on a weekly basis has helped improve her balance, coordination, strength and confidence. I truly believe it has helped her accomplish other extra-curricular activities we did not dream possible, such as downhill skiing and bike-riding! There are no words to describe how much this place means to me and our family, which is why I had to become involved as a Board Member, so I could support the non-profit organization who helps my little girl, who is now 8 yrs-old! I can't imagine what it would be like without them in our lives. The staff, volunteers, and horses are truly "exceptional!"
I have been a Board member for four years, and I can honestly say this is one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever been apart of. Exceptional Equestrians continues to better the lives of people of all abilities through the healing power of horses each and every day. To come in and see the riders faces and hear the comments from the parents that their child was so excited to come to their therapy session warms my heart. The staff is extremely friendly, cares, makes connections with the riders and gives each rider the proper attention. There are licensed clinicians, certified riding instructors and properly trained therapy horses on staff, which is huge. This place is truly amazing and heartwarming, I strongly urge you to check it out if you haven't already.
I have been both a volunteer and a Board member at Exceptional Equestrians. I can honestly say it has been one of the most heartwarming experiences of my life. The joy and excitement on the face of the riders as they participate in an equine therapy session lifts everyone spirits: The child, the parents, the therapists and the volunteers. It is truly amazing.
I have had the privelege of being involved with this organization since its inception in 1999. Exceptional Equestrians is staffed by caring and licensed professionals as well as a large core of amazing and dedicated volunteers who together, spend each day helping individuals with disabiilties acheive their highest potential.
The incorporation of horses into individualized treatment plans is unique to Exceptional Equestrians and significantly impacts outcomes. Horses are incredibly intuitive and responsive, and I have witnessed the bond that forms between each participant and their equine partner. Those individuals struggling with emotional health and wellness exhibit a sense of calm just being with the horse. I have heard participants say that time spent with the horse gets them through the week, helps them face daily life challenges. I have seen the change in posture , demeanor, and facial expression as a participant leads the horse over an obstacle for the first time. For many, the horse becomes the vehicle that helps them move freely through space without a wheelchair or walker. Becomes the coach who challenges balance and strength and facilitates positive changes in body and spirit. Exceptional Equestrians is a place where individuals of all abilities are welcome, and where each day brings joy to not only the participants, but to those of us who have the honor of working alongside them. MIracles truly occur here.
One of the best, most impactful organizations. Their work in the mental health and equine assisted fields are making an incredible difference in our youth and their families.
Exceptional Equestrians is an amazing organization! Its staff and volunteers are some of the most skilled and caring individuals you will ever meet. They are dedicated to the work they do and have truly made a tremendous impact throughout the community.
For the last 20 years, Exceptional Equestrians mission has been to better the lives of people of all abilities through the healing power of horses. They meet this need through various programs such as hippotherapy, adaptive therapy and equine-assisted learning. The dedication of their licensed clinicians, certified riding instructors, volunteers and trained therapy horses, Exceptional Equestrians annually provides over 3,500 equine-assisted sessions and serves over 250 families. What an amazing place!!!