I am writing this letter to express my appreciation for the riding program at Willow Creek Ranch. My daughter is four years old and has a mild hearing loss, developmental delay, and autism.
My husband and I were hesitant at first that Gabriella wouldn't take to the program, let alone get on such a large animal. To our surprise, Gabriella has thrived after two and a half months. of the riding program. Gabby is nonverbal (very few words), but has started telling her horse, "Buck" to "Wwalk Oon" to get him to walk forward and is also saying some colors, shapes, and letters.
We appreciate the support from the vivacious staff, they get just as excited for Gabriella as we do when she speaks and does something new. Their support gives our daughter her the extra motivation and encouragement she needs to get to the next level.
Gabriella stays interested and engaged for a full forty-five minutes to an hour. They start with the responsibility of putting on a helmet and walking her horse down to the arena. They work on letters, numbers, and colors as they walk around the arena, before heading to the sensory trails. The trails help Gabby become more in tune with her body by walking up and down hills, through stones, over the wooden bridge, reaching , and playing music, all while she is on her horse. Gabby works very hard during her sessions and has a wonderful calmness after it is over.
Our visits to Willow Creek Ranch once a week has have been a beautiful experience for our family. We are very thankful for the program and the support of the staff. This program brings lots of smiles and a light of encouragement to our family.
Review from Guidestar
"My name is Ashley and I am 19 years old. I was diagnosed with PDD-NOS which is a mild form of autism. My major issue is a fear of stairs, hills and heights. When I go to Willow Creek Ranch my body calms down instantly because my horse Dell is calm with me. Right away I forget my stress of the day when I arrive at the Ranch and my fear of heights goes away as I ride Dell."
"I have been riding since 6th grade. My confidence, balance and coordination continue to improve each year which allowed me to participate in other activities like Special Olympics where I received a 1st place 2 years in a row."
"Right now I am able to ride at Willow Creek for a few months out of the year due to cold weather. I hope someday soon they will be able to build an indoor arena so I can ride every week. This would make a huge difference in my world and help me a lot. Sometimes when I don’t ride for several months during winter I have difficulty remembering basics of riding. The indoor arena would help me a lot and allow me to ride every week and continue to improve my skills."
If you have any questions about my riding experiences at Willow Creek, contact me, Ashley M.
Review from Guidestar