I started volunteering here about 7 months ago. I love working with the kids and the instructors are wonderful to work with. I feel I get just as much out of these lessons as the riders do by learning more about their different levels of ability, how the horses interact with and help their riders, and by getting to know the riders personally.
I have volunteered at Hope Springs for the past year. I have helped out with lessons, camps, unmounted programs, and shows. In every interaction the students have had with the horses, they have grown and developed both physically and mentally. The instructors work diligently and gently with the students to ensure they get the most out of their experience yet ensure they enjoy the experience. Of all the places I have volunteered, Hope Springs is the place where I felt I have made the biggest difference in the lives of others.
My sister, who has high functioning autism, began riding at Hope Springs when she was 6. She has grown so much as a person as a result. Hope Springs has improved her communication skills with other people and taught her how to interact with animals. She has something to look forward to every week and a very supportive environment in which to ride. I started volunteering at Hope Springs a little over 4 years ago. I have helped many students and watched them grow. I have seen them become more confident over the years of riding at Hope Springs.
As I signed up to volunteer at Hope Springs, I did not realize how much of a commitment I would make to this organization. I spend roughly 5 hours a week helping children with disabilities. I love working with all of the instructors because they all have something different to teach their students and work with them in such a personal way that makes the lesson feel welcoming rather than just a horseback riding lesson. The instructors are all patient and have a good sense of humor in tough lessons. I love devoting my spare time to helping with as many lessons as I can to make sure that every student receives these great therapeutic riding services. Hope Springs has me to an interest in special education as a career option and grow a genuine love for working with disabled children.
Hope Springs is an amazing organization that services people with physical and cognitive disabilities in Chester County. Therapeutic horseback riding lessons are tailored to the individual rider consistently using the same horse, instructor, and volunteers. Riders gain physical strength but also gain independence and self-efficacy. There horses are amazing & so are the staff!
My name is Donna Condon and my son Christopher is 12 1/2 and we have had the pleasure of riding at Hope Springs for almost 4 years now and we couldn't be happier! When Jeannie Knowlton (Executive Director) asked if I would be able to speak at Hope Springs fundraiser, I was so humbled as it is a privilege to tell you how Hope Springs Therapeutic Riding program has helped my son.
Christopher has Autism and is nonverbal. Christopher actually started riding for therapy when he was 3 years old when we were living in New Jersey. However, after a year or two, we put the program on hold. When I moved back to Pennsylvania, I started to investigate therapeutic riding programs and came across Hope Springs. What was so special and unique about the program is they only offer their services to those individuals (children & adults) with disabilities. That was very important to me because I knew the instructors who would teach my son were specialized with all disabilities and would have the patience required, and they do! Everyone is so kind, loving and caring and as a mother, I can’t tell you how important that is to me!
I contacted Jeannie and she had us come out to the barn to meet her and the horses. She wanted to see how Christopher interacted with the horses and of course, he did great and then we began our sessions. I can't begin to tell you how much riding here at Hope Springs has helped Christopher. He has a low tone in his body and when we first started we had to have at least two volunteers along with the instructor because someone had to be along Christopher's side to help make sure that he wouldn't lean as his core muscles were weak and he could not sit up straight on the horse. Additionally, it's important to note that it’s not just pulling a horse around a ring or through the woods, he is being taught whether it’s his body parts (he did learn all of his body parts while riding), signing to “walk on”, holding the reins and many other things. Today, I am so proud to state that Christopher no longer requires a volunteer by his side, he can sit up straight and tall while riding Monte (his favorite horse) and his core muscles have increased immensely. His focus and attention while riding is outstanding, he is in tune with his surroundings and listens to the instructor. He is now pulling the reins back and advising Monte to stop, turning left and right and his favorite part is trotting….he loves the input he receives from bouncing up and down while trotting…it puts the biggest simile on his face.
I have said to Jeannie a few times that if I ever win the lottery, I want to give a large donation to Hope Springs so they can continue to help all individuals with all disabilities, the opportunity to ride, make new friends and most of all, have fun and be included!
I look forward to my son riding at Hope Springs for a very long time!
I have been riding at Hope Springs since 2002. Over the past 13 years I have enjoyed all my lessons at Hope Springs. My physical strength has greatly improved and my confidence level gets a boost every time I ride. The instructors are dedicated to their riders' well being and the care of all the wonderful therapy horses. I look forward to my lesson every week!
On my first day of volunteering at Hope Springs 9 years ago, I knew that this was going to be a wonderful organization to be involved with. I have seen the huge impact equestrian therapy can have on children and adults with disabilities. Kudos to the dedicated and talented staff, volunteers, and horses that work so hard to make a difference in the lives of each and every rider that comes to Hope Springs. It's a great feeling to be part of an organization like Hope Springs.
When we brought our daughter to Hope Springs Equestrian Therapy, we had the modest goals of building her upper body strength and improving her ability to communicate. We (and she) have gained this and so much more over the past 8 years. Her experiences at Hope Springs allowed our daughter to learn to read nonverbal cues and respond to them. She found her voice and gained the ability to be clearer in communication with her horse (and her humans). She learned to care for an animal that depends on her. And, surprisingly, she has felt pride (a feeling she rarely displays) in her progress in riding and in her accomplishments in dressage. When she started her lessons, our daughter was challenged to shift from home activities to the barn, and we had to pick her up and physically put her in the car. (Luckily she was a lightweight.) Now, she goes happily to a place where she can push herself, sometimes failing and more often succeeding—always knowing that Hope Springs is a safe, welcoming place where she finds her instructor’s warm, nurturing, and accepting embrace and the her own motivation to improve her riding. There is a quote that “Horses give us the wings we lack.” Hope Springs has truly given our daughter wings.