My son Adam has been taking horseback riding lessons for a year and a half at Heavenly Hoofs. The opportunity to be around these amazing horses has encouraged him to show gentleness towards animals and elicit some responsibility for their care. It has helped to build his confidence, while sitting up high on the horse and getting high-fives from the volunteers. Thanks to Heavenly Hoofs (and its donors), Adam has accomplished things he never imagined possible. Last spring he participated in the regional Equestrian Special Olympics, where he qualified to go to the state competition in Tampa. What an incredible event! I can’t tell you how happy I was to see my son participating in something so universally recognized and oh so beneficial.
My son Jeremiah is a student at Heavenly Hoofs Therapeutic Riding Center. Before starting the program Jeremiah was very depressed about his inability to participate in sports with other kids, because of his numerous medical problems, especially sickle cell disease. But when he got up on that horse the very first time, a transformation took place. This was something he could do! It brought absolute joy to his face… and tears to my eyes. Over the last two years, Jeremiah’s confidence has grown so much. Whenever he is hospitalized, his desire to go horseback riding is a big motivation to work hard at getting better. During the state competition of the Special Olympics, Jeremiah won a gold medal for “pole bending,” and I thought he was going to burst with pride and joy! On the second day of the competition, Jeremiah got a sickle cell pain crisis in his legs and was unable to walk. He did not want to let his team down, however, and was determined to stay for the drill team competition. We had to lift him from his wheelchair to his horse, and along with the rest of his team, he won yet another gold medal. Just about everyone was in tears.