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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

Michelle191

Client Served

Rating: 5

Victory Reins selflessly give to people with special needs opportunities to enjoy love for animals with services they need to excel inside and outside of therapy. They deliver a caring and gentile touch to real life experience not offered in a clinical setting. We are happy and grateful to have found Victory Reins.

Susan B.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I help out in different ways with fund raisers and my time. I am amazed how this program has grown so quickly and the effect on so many people. It is a positive group and focused on helping the community.

Previous Stories

Board Member

Rating: 5

Victory Reins became a part of our lives from the beginning. My daughter's horse is boarded there and we naturally started to get involved with the programs as volunteers. The program is organized, well-run, detailed and fun for all who participate. The faces of those who participate, volunteer or teach says it all. Everyone loves having a part in this program.

Diane97

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I am the mother a a young girl who volunteers for Victory Reins. I have seen first hand the impact that tihs organization has on the lives of children. It not only helps the special needs of children, but has given my daughter a place to volunteer and feel useful. The smiles I see on the childrens faces as they are riding is remarkable and the volunteers and Sandy Michalewicz are inspiring.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My family helps with the horses. We love all the animals, helpers, students, and Miss Sandy and Mr. Jim. Working with the horses gives my family a chance to learn about the animals. Coming down to the barn is fun and rewarding. The horses are well taken care of and the lessons are done to the needs of the students. Victory Reins is a great place to come and has such a warm inviting atmosphere. We will always be part of the Victory Reins family..

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I'm a veterinarian and my grandson rides at Victory Reins. The horses are well cared for and the barn is clean and organized. Sandy is great with the kids. She relates to each child in ways they can understand. I'm very impressed with the program at Victory Reins.

Kathy142

Client Served

Rating: 5

Before I participated in the therapeutic riding program at Victory Reins, I participated in a program at a different stable. I was immediately impressed with Sandy's teaching style. She was detail oriented and used a great amount of positive reinforcement. She is a natural teacher. I say this because I have been a classroom teacher for 27 years! Victory Reins is truly an asset to this community.

Angelique2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This is a WONDERFUL therapeutic riding stable! Well organized, well run. Sandy, the owner, is fantastic with all of the children's various needs, including my own. The horses are happy and healthy and there's a real sense of camaraderie among the volunteers. Lessons are very reasonable compared to other programs in the area. I am so happy to have this resource near me!

Scott Y.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am from the Mokena Lions Club. Almost three years ago I came to Sandy and Victory Reins with an idea of an outting that I wanted to put together. I was working with the Will County Special Education. What I wanted to do was to give some low vision children a chance to ride a horse and show the members of the Lions Club why we raise the money we do. Sandy blew us away with her energy and genuine love of what she does. As I have said from day one. Sandy and her volunteers create magic. The smiles on the kids faces and the tears of joy and smiles on the Lions are memories that never will be forgotten. It is the most looked forward to event we have. We have even had our District Govenor come participate. I can't write enough words to show how much Victory Reins means to the Mokena Lions!!!!!!!'

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My name is Scott Youdris and I am the 1st vice president of the Mokena Lion's Club. We had a vision to create an outting for some low vision children. I wanted to do something with the kids that we spend so much time fundraising money for. I found Sandy at Victory Reins through a mutual horse lover who couldn't say enough about the magic they create there! Sandy and her staff made our vision for a fun outting an experience that no one will ever forget! We brought 12 low vision kids to Victory Reins for a half day of riding horses. It was so much more. The kids we lead through 3 different stations learning about the horses, cleaning the horses, and finally riding the horses. We got to watch as these children went from terrified to overjoyed! The staff at VR taught us how to help so that we could interact with the kids as well! By the end of the day, there wasn't a dry eye among those of us that were there!I am still getting thank yous from the parents and my fellow Lions as well as "when are we doing this again"! Victory Reins has so much heart and spirit! Sandy is so incredible with these kids! There was one child who was totally blind and scared to death of the horses. Sandy and her staff worked so hard with him to ease his fears. By the end of the day, he was able to touch and pet the horse but just couldn't bring himself to get on and ride. Sandy saw his desire to do it. Sandy wanted him to have the experience of riding so bad that she got in contact with his family and invited him to come out again (at no charge) to try again. With some one on one that boy was able to get on and ride a horse! That is the love and magic VR has for what they do!!!!!!!!!!

Client Served

Rating: 5

Victory Reins is a wonderful place with outstanding people providing an exceptional experience for our family! Our son loves everything and everyone at the center, especially the wonderful horses! Staff and volunteers all treat the kids like their own, which makes us so comfortable spending time at the center.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Victory Reins is an amazing place to experience - our son loves riding and watching the horses. We have been going for several years now and it is great to see the transformation with not only our son but other riders as well. It's not only therapeutic for them but for the families as well. :)

Client Served

Rating: 5

My son Jeffrey has been in therapeutic riding at Victory Reins for over two years. He has autism and many aensory issues. At Victory Reins Sandy and the volunteers work with Jeff to help him feel calm and secure as he rides a very gentle horse around the barn. He uses the words and skills he has learned to guide the horse as he rides and to follow directions. After his lesson he is always calmer and happy. I am very grateful to Sandy the volunteers and the gentle horses for their contribution to Jeffs well being.

Sandy M.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been a volunteer with Victory Reins for about a year. We met Mrs. Sandy in the parking lot of Farm and Fleet when she stopped and asked if my family loved horses and if my son would help vote on Facebook for a grant for the barn. That meeting was the best thing that happened to my family. Working at the barn has been a blessing to us by giving my family an opportunity to work together on a healthy activity and to teach our kids about helping others. I work mostly with the horses during the day by taking care of feedings and barn chores. When you first walk into the barn you are met by a sense of calm and inviting atmosphere. The horses will look out of there stalls to meet you and the volunteers greet you with a hello. Mrs. Sandy will meet with each student and get to know what there riding abilities are and match them to a horse that will not only help them learn and challenge them but will give them a safe and secure lesson. I love to take part in the lessons because it is such a blessing to hear the kids laugh and how much they learn from one lesson to the next. I love volunteering at the barn and once you walk through those barn doors you become a life long member of the Victory Reins family.

Stacey P.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been a volunteer at Victory Reins for almost 5 years now. I love going there every Saturday and most Thursdays to help out with the lessons. I have gotten to know many of the children well and love working with them. The best part of working at Victory Reins is seeing the children grow and improve throughout the years with the help of these therapeutic lessons, and it is very rewarding to see their smiles as they enjoy their lessons with Miss Sandy. Victory Reins is a huge part of my life and I plan to keep it that way.

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I love volunteering at Victory Reins Therapeutic Riding Center. I have been going there with my two friends for almost 3 years now, and we absolutely love working there. We help out by doing chores around the barn, feeding the various animals, cleaning the horses, and helping out during the lessons. Working with the horses and other animals is great, but I also love working with the kids. It is amazing to see a child come back with improved skills after continuing with their lessons. The kids are so sweet and I love being able to work with them. Seeing them enjoy the lessons is an awesome thing to see, too. They really love being up on the horse and showing off their skills to everyone. All of the children that come for therapeutic riding have improved their skills in multiple different ways. They enjoy playing the games that Mrs. Sandy plans out and she is great with the kids. They really love her. This is a great organization!

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am a 55 year old woman with Multiple Sclerosis. I began participating in Victory Reins' therapeutic riding program last year. Therapeutic riding is the only time when I actually feel whole, once again. It allows me to have the freedom, which MS has stolen from me.

Sandy is an exceptional teacher; infusing exercise with a great amount of fun! She has created an opportunity for me to safely continue with an activity which I LOVE. Unfortunately, my MS has become far more challenging, and I have been unable to ride. Both my body and soul are aching to return, and some day soon, I will!

Client Served

Rating: 5

I'm a Foster mother of two beautiful little girls that have serious developmental delays and behavior issues. Victory Reins was recommended to us for occupational therapy through my younger dauther's pre-k program. I have seen more of an improvement in my daughters' behavior in the few months we've been participating in this program than I have seen in three years of clinical behavioral therapy. Sandy works wonders with these kids. The volunteer staff is very kind and compassionate. They are very involved with both the kids and the horses. They really care about the kids and work to develop a friendship with them. Thank you Sandy and the staff at Victory Reins. You have really been a blessing to me and my family.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have always wanted to work with horses, and volunteering for Victory Reins has been an absolutely wonderful experience. The horses here are some of the most sweet and amazing horses you could ever find. They are well cared for and very loved by the people who use them for their therapy lessons. I couldn't ask for a better place to volunteer my time and energy.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Our granddaughter has been riding at Victory Reins. We have seen a WONDERFUL change in her speech and cognitive skills. It is a great place with great people who really care. Thank you to all who volunteer.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

A great place to volunteer!! Bunches of Love, work, effort, fun, learning, animals...plenty to do along side the best owners in the world, My husband and I do volunteer Architecture & graphic design work, even get out there and shovel horse poop!! LoL!!

NWIOutdoors

Client Served

Rating: 5

Great people. They have the biggest hearts in the World! I love you guys thank you.

Cynthia42

Client Served

Rating: 5

My daughter has been to several facilities and Victory Reins is the best that we have found. The kids perform activities that help to strengthen their core and improve balance. My daughter has Spina Bifida and walks with forearm crutches. We are looking forward to continuing the program in the Spring. Any assistance provided to Victory Reins that helps to continue this wonderful service is greatly appreciated!! Cindy Smith

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I started volunteering at Victory Reins in January of this year assisting with chores and helping with the kids during their lessons. Evert time that I am there I leave having gotten more than the time that I have given. The smiles on the kids faces during the their lessons and after when they are interacting with the horses is unbelievable. I leave with tears having gotten much more than I've given. Working with and watching Sandy when she is working with the kids it is evident that she loves the kids and this is her passion and not a job. If anyone is looking therapeutic riding center that has a passion for their students, this is the place. Warren

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Victory Reins and all of the volunteers have witnessed it as a greenhouse of Miracles for the Special Needs children and adults from speaking for the first time on a horse to autism , low muscle tone , high muscle tone , all types of disabilities. Sandy makes it fun and very productive for the disabled as she matchs her students with the appropriate horse that can work with the challange to make them stronger , more relaxed and focused and feel good about what they have accomplshed on a horse that they normaly are unable to do . Sandy is gifted to work with these Special kids and adults and gives each student individual attention that is far and beyond what is expected no matter how long the lesson may go on ,she wants to serveeach one with Her Big Heart Of Compassion.....

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Victory Reins is different than most other Thearpy Riding Arenas .
Sandy and the volunteers take the time individualy with each students needs no matter what the disabilty is. I have had the oppurtunity as a Therapy Riding Instructor to see and work with these children and observe the incrediable response with students and also the parents that get there children back after the riding session that are calm and joyful, fullfilled with an accoplishment each time they ride,
I am also so blessed to be a part of such a growing greenhouse that Victiry Reins is,

Michaella

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been volunteer at Victory Reins for all most three years amd I love going to help with lesson and also to just do the everyday chores that need to get done. I am 15 years old but i am nothing like an average teenager. Instead of sleeping in late on saturdays or going out with friends on fridays I would much rather spend my time at Victory Reins helping with lesson or cleaning stalls. Victory Reins is like a second home to me I love feeling the joy of hope and love going through the air. Everyday i walk in there are smiles everywhere because of what Mrs. Sandy has created. This organiization and also Mrs. Sandy has also help increase my faith and has tought me so much about giving my time and work to people who need it like Mrs Sandy does.

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

At Victory Reins I was able to have a place that I enjoy. Everyone enjoys working with the kids and the horses. At Victory Reins we get to help the kids who can't even walk mound a horse and control them. With this organization we get to help kids in need and help take care of our horses. Lately we have been running short of money and can not pay our vet bills and our hospital bills. We just had to bring one of our ponies in for surgery and don't have the money to pay for the bill or a good enough car to get him there safe so it was a very risky event.

Jopen I.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Victory Reins is second home to my 11 year old autistic son, Neale. When my son first went there, he wouldn't even go near the barn but Sandy and one of the volunteers, Elizabeth, patiently convinced him to warm up to the horses little by little. That was a year ago and this year, on the first day that he learned he was going to see his favourite horse, Rasha, again, Neale jumped out of bed with the happiest smile on his face. Sandy, Jim and all the volunteers are simply heaven-sent. Watching the joy on the faces of special kids while they interact with the horses and the dedication of the angels who took time and effort to make the experience wonderful for them is just like seeing a live act of God right in front of you - it is PRICELESS!

Previous Stories

Client Served

Rating: 5

My son Neale is autistic and he was blessed to get the chance to go to Victory Reins for Therapeutic Horseback Riding Sessions. On his first day, Neale refused to even come near the barns. I thought that was the end of it. But Sandy and a VR volunteer, Elizabeth, patiently talked to him and tried to make him feel comfortable. They first introduced an amiable donkey to Neale then reined a cart on him where Neale can ride. That did it! For the next few weeks, that was how they got Neale to get inside the barn. 3 sessions later, Sandy and Elizabeth tried to convince him to get on a beautiful horse named Rasha, with Elizabeth riding with him at first and miraculously, he did! It is amazing how the dedication and patience of angels like Sandy and Elizabeth could change the life of a special child like Neale. It was a great milestone for a special child who has great fear of horses! Victory Reins is a heavenly place here on earth! The other day, Neale was jumping up and down and saying Rasha's name; he is ready! This summer, Neale is definitely coming back to spend fun times with Rasha again!

LeAnn

Client Served

Rating: 5

We love victory reins! Mrs.Sandy, Mr. Jim and all the volunteers are wonderful. If you are looking for a therapeutic riding center, we highly recommend this place.

Previous Stories

Client Served

Rating: 5

I can't say enough good things about Victory Reins. Sandy and all the volunteers are amazing people. The horses are great and well taken care of. My son has cerebral palsy and looks forward to it every week. They make it fun and interesting so he doesn't even realize he is at therapy. It is great for his core strenth and stretching out his hamstrings. I'm so impressed by all of their hardwork and dedication. I highly recommend it for all kids with special needs. VR is in it for all the right reasons, they truly care about their clients and their families.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

My son has been riding here for 2 seasons now and absolutely loves every minute. He enjoys riding the horses, interacting with Sandy and the volunteers who are so extremely dedicated. You do not encounter anyone like these people who enjoy horses so much and enjoy the children and adults they help. They have created an atmosphere that is truly an amazing sight to see. A place for any ability to be able to become "able" in many ways they may not otherwise, physically and emotionally.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

There are 2 children from my circle of friends and relatives that come here to ride. Everyone is so friendly and willing to answer questions. The children all seem to brighten up as we stand on the sidelines and cheer and encourage them. The animals are wonderful and truly seem to understand their special job.

Client Served

Rating: 5

A neighbor recommended Victory Reins to us a few years ago as a wonderful place for kids with special needs. We are so glad that we took her recommendation. For 3-4 years our three boys have learned to ride horses in a welcoming and accepting atmosphere. Our one son has Asperger Syndrome and benefits from the sneaky OT! Sandy is unbelievably dedicated and patient with our kids. We are lucky to be a part of VR.

Katie53

Client Served

Rating: 5

My son and daughter both receive horse therapy services at Victory Reins. The atmosphere is very welcoming and the staff is fantastic. Some of the strides our children have made we believe are an outcome of the therapy they have recieved at Victory Reins!

Vicki19

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Victory Reins has been a true blessing to me - it is a place away from my routine workday for pure enjoyment. I have always loved horses and wanted to be around them, when I volunteer at Victory Reins I not only get the satisfaction of being around the horses but I get to experience the magic that happens between a child and a horse. Horses sense things in a way that is truly amazing to be a part of - I wish I could volunteer full time, maybe someday:)

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I absolutely love victory reins! Volunteering has been a dream because I have gotten to work with all the wonderful horses and people! It's really amazing what they do there, and I can't wait to go back! My dream is to one day own horses, and I loved how hands on they let me be, and helped me learn more about horses and what they do. I also got to help out with lessons, and I loved it! It was so awesome to see how they were helping out the kids and I had a great time!

Julie86

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I Love Victory Reins! It is a great place to meet new people and horses! The Horses are so friendly! As well as the people there! It's just a good atmosphere to be in! I really love it! (:

Client Served

Rating: 5

This place is wonderful! I was looking for a therapeutic riding center for my son and Sandy was one of the few to call me back (and very promptly). She was able to fit us in the schedule that very week. We weren't sure what to expect and were pleasantly surprised. Everyone is so welcoming and helpful. The volunteers take great care of the kids and the horses too. We are glad we found such a great program for our son and plan to keep coming. Thank you Sandy, Victory Reins and all your volunteers!

Jeffrey T.

Client Served

Rating: 5

My son who is in the Autism Spectrum has been going to Victory Reins for about 2 months now and he has a great time with the horses. Sandy and the volunteers have been great trying to help him ride a horse. Everyone is extremely helpful! I would recommend this organization for people with special needs!

Client Served

Rating: 5

My daughter has been doing horse therapy at Victory Reins for the past 3 years. Being there at Victory Reins does so much good for her not only physically, but mentally....she is the happiest girl when at the barn surrounded by those loving horses! Most days she gets pretty down & so frustrated with having Spinal Muscular Atrophy. There at the barn she forgets all that & when she is up on one of the sweet horses she has the "legs" she dreams of! She counts down every week until its horse therapy day & then when that day finally gets here she counts down the hours until she gets to go! A BIG thank you to Sandy & all the amazing volunteers who work so hard so my daughter & all the others can have the time of their lives! Please know everything you do is greatly appreciated by so many families...especially ours! We are so thankful we found you Sandy & that you share your sweet horses with everyone! You hold a special place in all of our hearts! THANK YOU!

Client Served

Rating: 5

Just have to say that Sandy at Victory Reins has done wonders for my grandson Jarrin! He loves the horses & Sandy has taken so much effort to help him, even finding a spongebob picture to put on the horse when Jarrin couldn't be seperated from his spongebob hero. Its things like that which she does that makes me realize just how wonderful & loving she is when it comes to these lids with special needs!!! She puts in so much time, dedication, commitment, & love. If you have a child with special needs & want to get that child horse back riding lessons , this is the place to go!!! I can't say enough good things about Victory Veins!!!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I started volunteering at Victory Reins in January 2010. I knew nothing about horses but the program sounded interesting and I wanted to do something new. I now have a much greater knowledge of horses and a much better understanding of their worth with physically and emotionally challenged children and adults. My first duties were taking care of the horses since it was winter and no classes were held. I learned that these 'giants' were quite gentle and the more I worked, the more comfortable I became. I learned each horse's personality and loved them all. When classes started that spring I really started having fun. The students were fantastic. It was so great to see their faces light up when they got up on a horse. My role was to assist as a sidewalker or a horse leader and Miss Sandy would teach the class. Some of the students could only sit and ride while others took the reins and learned to steer, whoa, back up, and trot ( to name a few). Some needed to be held so they would not fall off while others were quite independent. All the students had fun and all of the students learned and all of the students' bodies were strengthened. Miss Sandy made sure she knew each student's capabilities and worked on their weaknesses while smiling and encouraging them the whole time. The joy on the parents's faces was also fun to see. These parents of challenged children have quite a load to carry, but I never heard one 'woe is me' comment and I am humbled by having known them. I am grateful that they have an outlet for their children where all can enjoy themselves. I recently found employment and have not been able to volunteer much at Victory Reins. It seems that I fell out of the loop, but I am happy to say that there are many new volunteers to help out and Victory Reins is thriving. I hope to be able to work more with them in the future. I am grateful for my time there and pray for God's blessings for them.

Sheri P.

Client Served

Rating: 5

My daughter is 15 and Cerebral Palsy Quadipulgic. Victory Reins was a God send for us. We have been with them from the begining. Victory Reins excepts everyone to ride, young, old, special needs, and regular people too. My daughter has really bad tone and by the time her lesson is over, she's like a wet noodle. Sandy works on her trunk control and has even gotten a special so she can ride more independently with side walkers. She even enters the children in horse shows. My daughter look foward to her weekly lesson.

Chelsea M.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My friend has been a volunteer at Victory Reins for about 4 years, and I could see the joy it brings her. She brought me along last year to help out with a group of kids from the Lions Club, and I was able to interact with the horses and children! It was such an exciting experience. I have been back twice since the initial time just working with the horses. The season start soon, and I cannot wait to get back to the stables to help with the kids and horses. I think this is such an amazing place for people of all backgrounds. It allows for some much growth for the students and the volunteers a like. It brings such joy to see the progress the students have. You can also plainly see the loving care the horses and children receive from all the volunteers.

Gretchen H.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Victory Reins has been such a blessing in my life and especially the life of my son, who has severe cerebral palsy. He horseback rides there once a week, on Saturdays, during Spring, Summer and Fall. Sandy and "Mr. Jim" are so wonderful with my son. Their patience and understanding of his shape and condition are outstanding. Sandy has an understanding of the animals as well, and pairs my son up with the right horse on the right day, I don't know how she knows, but she does. The volunteers are amazing! Some younger, as well as some adults who love the kids and the animals.Sam was having some difficulty enjoying horse back riding when on the horse alone at first. One of his goals is to work on sitting up better and using his core to strengthen it. Well, he was either too tired, too weak, or just not interested in sitting up until Sandy suggested a back rider for him. Enter a pretty girl who climbs up behind him to help support and encourage him. This made all the difference in the world for Sam! He started to sit up better and work his core. I believe he developed a little crush on the girl back riding for him, so this also made it easier on him. We have had horse back riding at other stables, but Victory Reins feels like home. This is not a business to Sandy and Jim. It's a calling and they treat everyone like family, meeting the different needs and loving all the kids, and their families like their own. This is so important when wanting to get Sam to cooperate. He loves Sandy and loves to mess around with her, because he can! Sandy can get hard work out of Sam without him knowing it! It's become fun for him now, as Sandy has gotten to know him and how he functions. That's my favorite, how Sandy gets to know each child and meet their individual need.

1 Cathy F.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Victory Reins is an amazing place that helps children and adults in the special needs community escape from their daily routines and feel a sense of freedom among other things. Our son has been riding for a year now and can't wait to start again at the end of the month! His face lights up when he sees Sandy, the owner, and the volunteers. He will take their hand and guide them into the arena with the horse he will be riding. He is always ready to go! Anyone who goes there will experience the beautiful atmosphere, the horses, and the people. You literally leave there with your mouth hurting from the permanent smile you have the whole time being there. It is a joyful experience that everyone should have. We appreciate all the hard work and dedication that Sandy and the volunteers have. Truly amazing!

Cheryl28

Donor

Rating: 5

I helped Elim Christian schools and got to know Sandy and her barnload of friends. So many good animals and people helping out others. She had also helped me get to know more people at the Hansen barn too. What they do to help people ride horses is amazing.

Katie M.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I absolutely love this program. Victory reins is welcoming to everyone no matter who you are. Its goal is to help others and that is exactly what it does. It also has taught me responsibility and patience. Unfortunately I have not been there within the past few months, but I do wish to return and continue to help out.

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've been volunteering at VR for about 2.5 years now and I absolutely love it. By volunteering, I take care of the horses by grooming and feeding them along with the other volunteers. Cleaning the barn, mucking stalls, and taking care of the horses would be considered the "behind the scenes" work that's done there. Other things that I do as a volunteer is take-part in lessons. The lessons consist of disabled children riding horses and someone needs to walk with the child alongside the horse to interact with him/her. Another person needs to be a leader of the horse, to make sure the horse is behaving and going the right direction. It gives me a great sense of pride and accomplishment knowing that I'm helping those who need and want the help. One of my favorite students who goes there is Sam. By being in the lesson as a volunteer, I will back-ride on the horse, with the student. I like how Ms. Sandy always plans the games for the day. It switches things up.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This will be my fourth year volunteering and I have learned so much! This is a great program for students with special needs. I have seen so much growth in the students through the lessons and riding the horses. The horses we have are perfect for the job to help the students learn and take care of them on their backs while they ride. The volunteers are great too. They help with the lessons either by side walking, leading the horse, or getting materials ready for the lessons. There are a lot of volunteers that work behind the scenes too by cleaning the barn, grooming horses, and much much more. I am so glad that I found this program because it is a blessing to be a part of.

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This is my second year volunteering for Victory Reins. I have fallen completely in love with this organization from the start. I am currently a Special Education major in college, so I knew this would be the perfect place for me to be. I volunteer every Saturday to prepare the horses for lessons and help teach each lesson. I have learned so much from Sandy and even from the students we teach. On Sundays, I feed the horses their breakfast and take care of them for the afternoon. There is always something to keep me busy at the barn, which is great! The lessons are so good for the students. They learn how to steer the horse, play educational games, trot, and even go on trail rides around the property. This is a great atmosphere to be in and watching the children learn and improve is a great feeling. The other volunteers treat the barn and children with such great respect. This is a great place to volunteer and help the special needs children!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Victory Reins works with children from all walks of life
with special needs. Children recieive therapy by having fun riding horses. As the chidren ride volunteers provide a safe and fun experience also giving them physicall and mental therapy challenges. The smile on the KIds faces can almost be matched by those of their parents watching them succeed. Victory reins is apppropriately named in that each childs developments (core strength to situp on their own,reach and stretch far enough to touch the horses mane,etc.} are victories over their disabilities.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am the Education Director of Camelot Therapeutic Day School in Kankakee and I worked with Sandy (the owner) to plan a fun and educational experience for our special need and social emotional disorder students. The day was a lot of fun. I feel that the students learned a lot from the very courtious staff at Victory Reins as well as the amazing riding experience. For most of the students this was the first time on, or even near, a horse. The staff worked with each student to get them familiar with the horse and they were able to ride and participate in fun activities while on the horses. Even though the day was hot the staff Sandy and her staff did an amazing job of accomodating us throughout the day. I feel it was a great and positive experience and I cannot wait until the next time we get to bring a group of students there. They all had a blast. Our group consisted of about 22 students ranging from asperger's to autism and other special needs as well as students with learning disabilities and social emotional disorder. Every student was able to take something great from this experience and Sandy was wonderful with planning the day around our students, our needs, and our schedule. It was great!

Sue C.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been with Victory Reins since ground level. I knew Sandy and her husband Jim from church and about 5 years ago moved my daughters horse to her barn. After that I found out Sandy's dream about a riding program for people with special needs, I jumped right on board! I started a candy bar fundraiser to help raise the money for Sandy to become a NARA Certified instructor. Everyone at the barn was happy to help and we raised the money needed. That was how much I believed in Sandy and the vision that God gave her. I have two children with special needs that were in the program and loved every minute of it!! I have been involved in many ways, volunteer, board member, donor, client, fundraiser person and best of all friend. I have since moved to Michigan but actually came back this year for the Candlelight Bowl Fundraiser! I think it says it all when you drive 41/2 hours to participate in a fundraiser!

Client Served

Rating: 5

I have been to Victory Reins twice with groups of disabled Adults. They have loved every minute of the time we spend there. Sandy and her staff take to the time to help every individual have a great experience touching,feeding,walking ,grooming the horse. They love it and are made to feel very comfortable there. My clients can't wait to get back there.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This is my first full summer volunteering at Victory Reins, and it has been an incredible experience. I am currently a Special Education major in college, and the impact that the lessons have on the students is truly amazing. Miss Sandy's passion for the students and for the horses is contagious, and I learn something new each and every time I volunteer! The time that I have spent at Victory Reins is priceless, and I look forward to every opportunity to visit!

Martha C.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I thank God that He led me to volunteer at Victory Reins. I have been blessed beyond belief by Sandy, the horses, the wonderful students, the wonderful parents, and the GREAT volunteers. Sandy truly reflects her love for the Lord in providing wonderful therapy for all of us!

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am a physical therapist whose daughter is attending Victory Reigns. The instructors and volunteers are amazing. They make it fun; they are knowledgeable; they are friendly. The horses are wonderfully tempered working with children with disabilities and any able bodied folk. We love it and my daughter cannot wait to be old enough to volunteer. We highly recommend Victory Reigns!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am a healthcare professional that has just started volunteering at victory reins. Being around the students and the animals is one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had in my entire life. It is amazing to see how the kids/adults with special needs interact with the horses. The therapy these individuals get from riding horses can not be done in a classroom or in conventional physical/occupational therapy. It helps with balance, motor skills, muscle strengthening, confidence and gives them a way to interact with others that they normally would not do. Victory reins has a warm, caring environment...everyone is there because they want to be.

Andrea M.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

When I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease my doctor had told me that horses were a great form of therapy. Now, 10 years later, I fully understand what he meant. I have been volunteering with Victory Reins for almost a year now and I can't imagine how I went so long without being part of this community. The people there are amazing and the interaction with the children is so powerful. All of the staff, parents, students, and even the animals make Victory Reins my favorite place to be each week! I truly believe this organization is worth its weight in gold and so many people benefit from its existence. Come on out and see for yourself!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

victory reins is a wonderful place that teaches adults and children to cooperate, understand, and benefit off of what god has and hasn't given them. from being a volunteer i know the hard work that everyone puts in to help each other. taking time with each student, they focus on goals the student and parent would like to reach within their ability. when students ride they ride in groups with many helpers to guide them along there way in the journey.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Victory Reins – Amazing benefits both physical and emotional.
I am the parent of a special needs child that has been riding at Victory Reins for 4+ years now. My son has Cerebral Palsy affecting all four limbs with excessive muscle tone. When we began, my son was scared of the horses. Sandy and her supportive staff encouraged him to begin with grooming the horse and getting to know him. Within a short time Sandy had my son up on the horse and loving it. He was so excited to be a "cowboy"! Since that first day we were hooked. My son asks every week if he can go riding and has truly fallen in love with the horses and the staff. But the best part is not seeing his excitement to ride but seeing the amazing benefit that he receives physically and emotionally. My son struggles with his excessive muscle tone making it extremely difficult to accomplish tasks that a normal 7 year old could do. His inner leg muscles are so tight that his legs cross when he tries to walk. Riding a horse and getting that deep stretch has allowed him more freedom of movement. He is now able to walk with a Taos Walker. With each ride we see his confidence; overall body strength and posture improve. I have recommended VR to anyone and everyone that will listen to me. My son’s therapist has even attended sessions with him on occasion and was so impressed that she told many of her clients about what an amazing place Victory Reins is. Sandy creates a lesson that is geared towards the needs and abilities of each rider. She is wonderful to work with and loves our kids like they are her own. I can not say enough wonderful things about the impact that VR has made in our family.

Donna S

Board Member

Rating: 5

I became involved with Victory Reins after reading an article about it's opening. I had been looking for a place that would let me ride a horse and get some exercise at the same time. I contacted Sandy the director and started 3 years ago. My husband and I were asked to be on the Board which we were honored to be a part of. I also helped run the last 3 fundraisers. Since I am a volunteer, special needs student and Board member I have been able to see all sides of this organization. Not only do I receive the therapy I need, I get to ride a horse in a safe and friendly enviorment. Victory Reins is more than an organization it is a family. Friendships are made and information is exchanged. Once you observe or work with a special needs student
you form a bond. Nothing is like watching a fearful child break into a smile as the horse begins to move and the accomplishment that child feels at the end of the ride. I hope all special needs community members find their way to Victory Reins and experiance the love and devotion of the volunteers and horses. Sandy becomes your friend, mentor and instructor all rolled up into one. I can't wait to see what the future holds!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Victory Reins has to be one of the best theraputic riding facilities in the Midwest if not in the nation. The facilites has a host of positive reinforcement for the horse community and riders with disabilities. I have personally watched the faces of children turn to sheer delight while receiving lessons from Director, Sandy M. The volunteers are there to to assist, provide stability to the riders and ensure safety is adhered to. This is definitely a clean, friendly and family oriented facility that welcomes all with open arms. Thank you Victory Reins for the job that all of you do so well. Christine J.

Katie C.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I love Victory Reins, plain and simple. I'm volunteering there, and didn't realize what an enriching experience it would be when I first started. I thought it would be just leading some horses and cleaning stalls, but I learned very quickly that it was much more than that. I can't begin to explain how I felt when I had finished my first time leading a horse for a lesson and the child dismounted and giggled "I think I had too much fun". It's one of the best feelings to see kids come into the barn and ride the horses and hear them laugh and see them smile when they're trotting or hunting for toy cars around the arena. Victory Reins is a beautiful place working towards a wonderful cause, and I intend to volunteer here for many years to come.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

always a wonderful experience with such great caring people. God has and will continue to bless you!

Carol P.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I am the mother of a volunteer, and I love what my daughter gets out of it. I have watched the joy on my daughter's face while riding or helping others. She has helped out with the animals and lessons there. I love the environment at Victory Reins, it is so inviting and friendly. All of the animals there are very calm and patient with the children. Everyone is welcome at Victory Reins!

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I am a certified Therapeutic Riding instructor who trained under Sandy from Victory Reins. Sandy is an amazing teacher! I have seen first hand how she has helped children and adults overcome so many obstacles with her riding program. What she offers is wonderful, no matter what age or what disability you are dealing with. You leave with new skills and new accomplishments that you never had before. Safety is always first, but you also have fun with the horses, games,volunteers and other students.
I have been around horses for over 30 years and this is one of the best experiences I have ever had helping others with horseback riding.. These gentle animals ,sincere volunteers and knowledgeable instructors can change your life....try it.....you'll really enjoy it! Giddy up and happy trails!! Brenda O

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Horseback riding was something I always enjoyed doing but never really seemed to be able to find the time to squeeze in frequent riding time. I happened across a Victory Reins business card in a tack shop and immediately knew I wanted to help out. I love that I can spend any free time that I have in the barn feeding, grooming, cleaning, or even helping with lessons. It has been an absolutely amazing experience getting to spend my time with the incredible teachers, students, and horses associated with Victory Reins. The atmosphere is extremely comfortable and inviting and I couldn't think of a better way to share my love for horses. Giving a child the chance to ride who may otherwise be denied the opportunity, and seeing the smiles on their faces is completely indescribable. I hope to be able to continue to volunteer my time and help out Victory Reins in any way I can.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Victory Reins has been a god-sent to our community. I know the work Sandy and her staff of volunteers do for children who are challenged. I have seen kids who have no way of relating to others up on a horse and relating to the horse. They are able to express joy at the connection each has been able to have with the horse. Sandy is able to slowly reach each child. Her patience and love, along with her expertise and the horses, are able to bridge the gap others have not been able to bridge. The parents of these children are often times the most touched seeing their child having fun and enjoying the experiences.

Donor

Rating: 5

I have been to Victory Reins several times and just love the atmosphere there. The horses there are so patient and well-mannered. The staff and volunteers really love what they do and are so caring and kind to the clients. A wonderful place to visit and participate!