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Victory Reins Therapeutic Riding Center

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Health, Health Support

Mission: To provide therapeutic recreational equine activities for children and adults with special needs to experience the bond that is created between horse and rider. Empowering them to be victorious in all areas of life and reach their fullest potential.

Results: Since inception in Oct 2007, we have grown from 5 students to 40 plus steady students in additon to hosting special needs groups for day trips to the farm. We educate them with hands on learning experience with all the animals on the farm in a safe and supervised environment. The benefits impact them physically, cognitively and psychologically. These aspects of the session awaken their awareness, increase coordination and attention span, along with giving them a CAN DO attitude to succeed in life. Providing volunteer opportunities for school groups, individuals and community service workers to enable them to give back to their communities.

Target demographics: Handicapped, disabled or special needs peopleVolunteers who want to assist people with disabilities in the South Chicagoland area and surrounding suburbs.

Direct beneficiaries per year: 40 plus special needs students with various disibilities like CP, MS, Autism, ADHD, Learning disibilities,Speech delays etc.and their families, plus groups from Elim , Cornerstone, St. Colletta's, The Lions Club, various preschools, Girl scouts, Brownie groups and youth groups.

Geographic areas served: Northern Il.

Programs: Riding sessions that takes therapy out of the clinical setting and puts it in a safe and fun environment. Horse/animal care education and hands on experience.

Community Stories

159 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Amy_B

Client Served

Rating: 5

LOVE this place! My daughter has been riding for 8 years at Victory Reins. It is still the highlight of her week. We love all of the volunteers; they are so encouraging & helpful. Sandy, the owner, is simply amazing! We love all of the horses & other farm animals. My daughter has made so many gains through her riding. From focus, listening skills, processing skills, paying attention to what is going on around her while still being in control of her horse, memorizing a pattern to lead her horse through. And let’s not forget to mention...she is in control of a very large animal & she does it independently. Her confidence in herself has soared. I’m forever grateful for everyone at Victory Reins!

Previous Stories

Client Served

Rating: 5

Victory Reins Therapeutic Riding Center has been such a blessing to our family. Our daughter has been riding for a year & a half & we have seen an amazing transformation in her. She loves horses & her weekly interaction with them has improved her focus, motor planning, core strength and her self confidence. Sandy is an amazing advocate for those who are differently abled. We highly recommend this nonprofit!

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Working with Victory Reins Therapeutic Riding Center has allowed the youth we serve to gain much confidence and improve social and leadership skills. The staff here at Victory Reins have been very kind and supportive to youth that we serve, and have been very understanding to the specific needs of each individual client. The youth look forward to going to Victory Reins and are always sad when it is time to leave. It bring great joy to know that the youth we serve look forward to going to Victory Reins and look forward to whatever task, challenge, or activity that is waiting for them.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I had the opportunity to volunteer at victory reins two summers ago and it was such an incredible experience! This place really is changing the lives of so many of the children that walk through the door and I have yet to see someone walk out the door without a smile on their face. It is such a supportive and loving environment and I would absolutely rate it as one of the best therapeutic riding centers. Seeing the relationship between these kids and the horses is such a beautiful experience. If I can I would totally go back at help out!!!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteered for only five or six months at Victory Reigns but it was one of the most enlightening volunteer jobs I’ve ever had. To watch them put into action and pour real victory into the lives of children and adults with special needs or those who are hurting, was an experience I will never forget. Watching the smiles on the faces of the children as they got on those horses and began to ride or the woman who couldn’t walk but on a horse looked like she could conquer the world, lives are being transformed. The owners and employees are some of the most giving and kind people I have ever met. This place hands-down brings victory not only to those who have special needs but to each and every volunteer or person who walks through those doors.

HappyGrandchild

Client Served

Rating: 5

Love Victory Reins Jim & Sandy and ALL the volunteers. I’ve been taking my multi needs grand daughter Dylan for8+ years. She loves it! Everyone is do nice. It’s her only “my time” activity. Neither walks or talks but smiles when on “her”Dodge. It has helped her core muscles. Now since I need help getting her out of car and back in again, many of the volunteers have helped us with both. We are most grateful!

Previous Stories
1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Been bringing our multi needs grand daughter for therapudic horse riding for over 5 years to Victory Reins. She LOVES it. Thank you to Sandy and Jim and all the volunteers who guard her as she “rides”. Many beautiful improvements made since we started. Couldn’t be more pleased!!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been volunteering at Victory Reins for 5 years now, and it has been the best experience of my life. I have matured so much and have grown into a stronger person. The children and adults are absolutely amazing and I am so grateful to be able to help touch their lives. I have also struggled with making friends, and I have gained all of my best friends from this facility. They are all like a second family to me. I have also gained a lot more horse experience by volunteering here. I had 5 years prior experience with horses before I started volunteering, and I have gained so much more knowledge that will help me throughout my life. I am so thankful to have this facility and second family in my life.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Victory Reins is one of the best places that I’ve ever volunteered at. It is so much fun to help out with lessons, see the smiles on the riders’ faces, and know that we have helped the riders overcome daunting challenges. As volunteers, we also have the privilege of grooming horses as well as being with other amazing volunteers who make an enormous difference in the community. Please take the time to check this wonderful nonprofit out and volunteer/donate here! You will love it! :)

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Victory Reins is such a great place. I have been volunteering here for a while and have loved working with kids, the horses, and the other volunteers. It is easy to tell they really care about what they do and can feel the love they have for kids and horses.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Everyone I worked with was so kind and fun to be around! I particularly loved how the LOVE of Christ was represented and shown!

acorzine03

Client Served

Rating: 5

Victory Reins is an amazing, Christ-centered, mission minded, riding center.
They go above and beyond to help so many people.
We are blessed to know them and board our horse in their barn.
All four of our daughters were loved, nurtured, and trained to ride and care for horses at VR.
We’re blessed to have them serving our community!
The Corzine Family

Previous Stories
1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I don't even know where to start. :)
Sandy, Jim, and the staff at Victory Reins, mean the world to our family.
Our four daughters ride, three of our girls have physical health issues (orthopedic and cardiac), and our fourth battles anxiety.
We feel like family when we walk through the doors, our kids are loved and encouraged. They never want to dismount and could live at the stable if we'd let them. ☺
This place, is very special, peaceful, and accepting of all children/families.
It's a little piece of our heaven on earth.
We love Victory Reins! ❤

Dee K.2

Client Served

Rating: 5

My daughter has been doing therapeutic riding at Victory Reins for years and loves it. They are amazing working with her and have really helped with her balance. The staff is friendly, loving and most of all patient and they build wonderful relationships with the children. It's a great experience for children with disabilities.

Katrina D.1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Wonderful place! I can not express how great they are with!

1 debmach

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Victory Reins helps individuals through therapeutic riding and the relationships built with the horses. I volunteer here and consider it time well-spent to support a Great Non-Profit!

Previous Stories
1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteer at Victory Reins and it is wonderful to see the experiences riders have here. It is a place where people connect with horses and relationships form. I love being there. I look forward to my time at Victory Reins every week!

1 Nancy E.2

Client Served

Rating: 5

My daughter has been riding at Victory Reins now for years and she absolutely loves it! The owner/teacher is VERY friendly with both the students and their parents/guardians and makes bringing our children there a happy experience.

The student 'volunteers' are, also, very good with the students and you can see that it's like a big family!!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've been coming out to Victory Reins to volunteer on at least a weekly basis for almost three years and I can honestly say it has changed my life for the better. I'm very lucky to be able to say that I've grown up with horses but since I started coming out to the barn, it strengthened my love and need to help animals even more. Now I can proudly say I just graduated veterinary technician school. The people I have met here have become my second family and I cannot be more grateful for that.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I was there last week with my class. They did an amazing job helping all my students with multiple disabilities. All of the students and staff had a wonderful time

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

My school goes here every year for horseback riding and they do an amazing job. They are very kind and patient with our students who have a variety of needs. All of our student love going on this field trip every year!!

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am a Physical Therapist working in a school with many children with many special needs. Victory Reins has done a wonderful job of welcoming our children in a safe and friendly environment. The staff was very good at accommodating our many diverse physical and sensory needs.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Victory Reins is a great place to be. The atmosphere is amazing and everyone is so kind and helpful. I just started volunteering about a month ago and I love it already. Mrs. Sandy is very helpful and if I have any questions she is always quick to respond and help me out in the barn or with the horses. I look forward to learning new things about the horses and even the therapeutic side of the horse industry.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Our daughter rides at Victory Reins and absolutely loves it!!!
She is always greeted with warm, friendly smiles, receives gentle, fun encouragement while riding and takes pride that she is part of this wonderful family called Victory Reins.

Sandy, Jim, the great staff and volunteers have a caring, compassionate, loving, kind heart. What a gift they are. They have richly blessed our daughter's life. They have taken time to learn about her and how to communicate with her. It certainly gives her confidence and makes her feel loved and able to do something that not everyone can do....... ride a horse!

The horses are kind, gentle, well-cared for and know that they have an awesome responsibility. They love it! It is really incredible to watch the student/horse relationship develop. They become friends..... loving, caring, trusting and hoping in each other.

Thank you Victory Reins for your hard work, your passion to serve and your love for all people!!! You rock!!!

1 Carolyn L.3

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

My daughter has been volunteering at Victory Reins for over 5 years now and absolutely loves it. And I as a parent love it there as well. What Jim and Sandy provide for their students is amazing and what the volunteers learn there is equally amazing. There is just so much compassion when you are at the stables. My daughter has learned so much working with the children that she now has an interest in pursuing Special Education in college - wanting to help children with disabilities. Victory Reins is a wonderful place!!!!!!!

MLynn

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

We love spending our time here! There’s so much for my son to do from the petting zoo area to riding the horses. Every person is extremely kind and makes us feel welcome! Thanks so much for everything you do!

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I cannot say enough great things about Victory Reins! My time there takes me out of everyday and surrounds me with amazing people and caring animals. I have seen the changes and progress of the students over the years and the simplest task which may have been impossible at one point is now possible. It's hard not fall in love with the experiences that I have had here.

Jay F.2

Client Served

Rating: 5

Absolutely wonderful opportunity for special needs children.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I’ve been volunteering for Victory Reins for 10 plus years . I can not express what a blessing it has been to work along side and Sandy and Mr. Jim and to see the joy that their ministry brings to the children and their families .

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Indian Oaks Academy, a residential treatment center for youth in Manteno, Illinois, has partnered with Victory Reins Therapeutic Riding Center since December, 2017. They focus on building selff-esteem, concentration, relaxation, etc. Sandy Michalewicz, founder and director of Victory Reins, commented on the progress that can be made from equine therapy, noting that “getting on a horse empowers kids…offers them a sense of freedom.” The youth at IOA not only learn to ride, but groom, turn out, clean stalls, feed, and even bathe the horses. Their equine therapy has served our youth well. We strongly recommend Victory Reins as an organization, and as a place of healing!

1 Jeannie K.2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've volunteered at this great place and it is wonderful. There is so much love, kindness, and compassion. Their mission to help others thru experience in riding or even relating to animals is amazing. They are doing a fantastic work here.

1 MRossi

Client Served

Rating: 5

My son Will has ASD and has been riding with Sandy and her amazing team of volunteers for several years now. Riding helps him focus and puts the reins in his hands and empowers him to make the choices. Our daughter, Faye was born with a chromosomal deletion. She began riding at VR when she was three. She was bascially non-veral. Within three months she was able to say "walk on" in order to get her horse to move forward. Riding also helped with her balance, core strength, hand-eye coordination, et.
This is an amazing non-for-profit organization. The people who run VR and volunteer are the most amazing people you will ever meet. They truly have a passion for the horses and the riders who come to participate. Truely an A++ experience, for the whole family, not just the rider.

Previous Stories
2

Client Served

Rating: 5

There are no words to convey how we feel about this amazing place. Our son Will has ASD, and has been riding with Ms. Sandy and her amazing volunteers for two years now. He works on listening, following directions, academics and extras such as sign language. He has now worked up to riding a horse on his own, with a volunteer coach who walks along side him. He has built his confidence immensely. We look forward to seeing Will ride in the Special Olympics again this fall.

Faye just turned 3 years old. She was born with a micro-deletion on her 6th chromosome. She has a lot of developmental delays, including gross motor and speech. Faye is currently working on using her vocabulary while riding and strengthening her core muscles. When we arrive at Victory Reins, Faye begins yelling and cheering in anticipation to riding a horse.

Sandy is such an amazing and special person with such a gift with working with children and horses. The entire atmosphere of this place breathes "amazing" as well as relaxing. It just gives you a chance to sit back, watch, relax and breathe.

We were fortunate enough this year to come out to the farm and work two weekends with the volunteers, in order to prepare for the upcoming spring season. It gave us such a sense of accomplishment, knowing that so many children and adults would be enjoying this wonderful place, in a matter of weeks. We are fortunate enough to have this wonderful extended family.

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1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Love volunteering here! I have participated in numerous aspects....helping with feeding, organizing, cleaning, assisting with lessons and more! I have learned a lot . Sandy and Jim are very understanding and give great direction, as well as leaving you to your tasks. I would highly recommend anybody to come visit and volunteer!

Volunteer

Rating: 4

I have been volunteering at Victory Reins for about 7 or 8 years. I have always love animals, especially horses. I also have a passion for helping people with special needs, so this place is right up my alley! I checked out helping with lessons and was hooked. I love the supportive, family atmosphere that is encouraged among both riders and volunteers. Wanting to learn more, I began helping with feeding and other barn chores, guided by the owner and more experienced volunteers. Going out to the barn on Sunday mornings has become my sanctuary. Spending time with the horses and other animals is very therapeutic for me as well. I have loved seeing the program growing over the years, seeing new and familiar faces every year. I hope to continue to be able to continue volunteering as long as I possibly can.

Annie Thiel C.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

My son, Ben, has PDD-NOS, which falls under the umbrella of Autism Spectrum Disorders. Ben struggled with self-esteem and feeling of competency due to his developmental delays. Finding Victory Reins has been a God-send. Learning how to ride, and ride successfully, has made Ben proud of himself and has given him confidence in all areas of his life. Under the tutelage of Ms. Sandy and all her wonderful employees and volunteers, Ben has developed into an accomplished equestrian, and the medals and ribbons that he has won hang proudly in our home. Thanks are not nearly enough to express our love and gratitude for this wonderful program!

Deborah H.

Client Served

Rating: 5

My daughter has been riding at Victory Reins for 11 years. It has helped her immensely with her physical limitations as well as helping her to develop strong bonds with the volunteers and staff. She loves being a part of the Special Olympics and it has helped her self esteem.

Previous Stories
2

Client Served

Rating: 5

Victory Reins creates a family environment. They have worked with my daughter Makayla for 10 years. She has become much stronger and showed many horsemanship skills that would not have been possible many years ago. When she got sick last year, Sandy and Jim called right away. We look forward to lessons every week.

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Volunteer

Rating: 1

I volunteered at Victory Reins in the past. I agree that therapeutic riding can be a positive experience both mentally and physically, I was a little disappointed. The facilities are clean and the horses are fed however I feel that Sandy lacks in the skills department when it comes to the animals..... one of the horses was not feeling well, Sandy gave him a shot for his stomach problem and he ended up dying ( about 3 years ago). Is this woman also a veterinarian? She roughly yanks the reins if one of the horses is disbobeying in a rough mean fashion.... it really broke my heart to see a horse treated this way. She can be bossy and demanding. Some of the kids cry and really don't enjoy the experience.... Not all it's cracked up to be.... and one of the young female volunteers who has been there many years is a witch

Gerald6

Donor

Rating: 5

They are a top notch organization. They always go above the call of duty. They have helped our granddaughter immensely.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Victory Reins is an amazing place. The owner’s Sandy & Jim have the biggest heart when it comes to the children. They make you feel so welcome.

Cindy89

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Victory Reins does so much for everyone involved; the volunteers as well as those receiving services. It is very rewarding. Sandy and Jim have hearts for God and it shows through what they do through VR.

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My 13 year old and I volunteer together and let me tell you, we get as much out of Victory Reins as the kids that we help. The kids are so sweet and positive and Sandy and Jim have a heart of gold. I look forward to spending my Thursdays at VR!