I have two sons that attend HOPE, Horses Helping People, and they absolutely love it! They look forward to going every week. Ms. Sarah and Ms. Cathi, along with their
volunteers, are excellent at working with them. When we came, they were struggling with generalized anxiety and OCD. One of my sons did not even want to entertain the idea of getting on the horse. After working with him for a few weeks he was enthusiastically getting on the horse, and you would think he had grown up around a barn with the way he was grooming the horse and caring for the horse. From start to finish it's a very calming experience. It also gives them an opportunity to lead in healthy ways. Communication with parents is wonderful as they work on achieving the goals set out for the child and family.
I’m 53 years old and have been going to HOPE (Horses Helping people) for more than 15 years.
When I was 10 years old and living in Massachusetts I had brain cancer and immediately had two surgeries -- one to install a shunt and the second to remove the bulk of the tumor -- at Mass General Hospital in Boston. After the surgeries, I had six weeks of radiation to remove the rest of the tumor. The radiation, which ran up and down my spine, caused other long-life problems, primarily balance and dexterity.
When my parents and I moved to Florida, I was told about HOPE and hippotherapy and how a horse's gait mimics a human’s gait. I asked my primary care physician about it, and he agreed that it would benefit me, so he wrote a prescription recommending the horse therapy.
Since I started riding the horses, I made several new friends, humans and equines. I’ve been riding one horse, Lila, for six years. Five years ago, she saved my life when she gently threw me. After that happened, I was having seizures so my primary care physician ordered several tests and found another tumor. I have learned that animals can sense when someone is sick or anything out of the ordinary and Lila did. I am still very thankful to HOPE and the horses.
I am still riding Lila, and my balance and dexterity have greatly improved since riding the horses. A special thanks to Cathi Brown and all of the volunteers who struggle to keep HOPE going. After COVID and subsequent inflation, it hasn’t gotten any easier for them.
My daughter really struggles with fine motor skills due to her disability. Since being at HOPE for the past few years, she has made huge strides in her fine and gross motor skills. Her growth in confidence and independence is also evident from her therapy and time at HOPE. Going there is the highlight of her week - therapy is fun for her! Cathi is so patient, knowledgeable, and does an amazing with my daughter. All the volunteers have been wonderful, too. HOPE is a gem and I’m so grateful for it.
My name is Clara Blitch, and my husband, Stephen, is the primary caregiver and homeschool teacher for our autistic son, Wyatt, who is seven years old. When he was almost four, we were able to get his psychological testing done and received his diagnosis of Autism. We had already begun utilizing OT and Speech therapy at his school from the age of three, but both of those were offered on a very limited basis. We hired an occupational therapist to do therapy with Wyatt once a week in our home, and it was a wonderful experience.
We move when Wyatt was five years old, and we had to find a place to transition his therapies. Around that same time, we realized that traditional school wasn’t the best for our little guy, so Stephen began homeschooling him. We found HOPE when we were looking for OT. As a family have always loved horses. In fact, Stephen was a farrier when we met 24 years ago.
Our experience at HOPE has been nothing short of amazing. I work to support our family and the photos I received from Stephen of Wyatt’s first appointment showed my beautiful son holding a feed bucket for his therapy horse, Alvin, and the smile on his face displayed such genuine joy. The occupational therapy he gets to experience not just on horseback, but in the caring for and tacking his horse has been incredibly effective, and he has learned so much. We see Wyatt growing in his motor skills daily, have watched his confidence bloom in his improved coordination, physical strength, comprehension, social and communication skills. He is experiencing all of this from not only educated and certified individuals, but from a team that truly cares about his goals and success and show him love like he is their own.
The connection between horses and humans like Wyatt is a beautiful experience. They have chosen just the right equines with just the right personalities and temperaments to help provide love and comfort to their clients. This therapy experience and the connection we have watched grow between Wyatt and Alvin has truly given us HOPE for his continued development, growth and happiness in life. Our job as his parents is to help him unlock his potential and not change who God made him to be; the HOPE ranch and amazing providers are instrumental in helping us in our pursuit of his success and happiness in life. Wyatt feels like he belongs at HOPE, and there is nothing more than we want for him in life but to feel that sense of belonging and hope for the future.
My daughter Olivia has been attending HOPE for 6 years now. Olivia becomes a different
person while she’s at HOPE, she can do anything when she’s there. Olivia’s multiple diagnoses, the list of things she can’t do... they all seem to fade in the background when she’s riding the horses at HOPE. Olivia’s face lights up, she’s engaged and excited, she chatters non stop, she’s always so excited to go to HOPE for therapy. The relationship and connection Olivia has with the horses and staff at HOPE is so special. I’ve seen her thrive and grow from therapy sessions at HOPE. Olivia can always count on the wonderful people at HOPE to be her biggest cheerleaders.
HOPE is my favorite place to be because I get to hangout
with the most wonderful people, the greatest person, Cathi Brown and
I get to ride my favorite horse, Lila. She is the perfect horse for me
because she’s not fast, but she's not too slow. What I’ve been doing
lately at HOPE is brushing Lila then having her saddled up. After that
I go for a ride. I usually ride around the field, do obstacles, work on
riding her on my own, or trotting. I’ve been going to HOPE since I
was 4 and now, I’m almost 17.
For a child who has never been around horses, it took no time at all for HOPE to become Scarlett's favorite hour of the week. Once she gets on her horse, Andy, she gets an immediate sense of calm. She loves to joke with all of her friends at HOPE and everyone does a great job at making therapy fun for her. In the 5 months that we've been with HOPE, we've seen huge improvements in Scarlett's balance, sensory sensitivities, and overall mood. There really is magic at HOPE, and we are so thankful to have found them!
Meet Virginia, age 19, wheelchair bound, with speech that is difficult to understand. Due to her disability, getting enough physical exercise and social interaction is a challenge. Horses Helping People HOPE helps her meet that challenge. She counts the days until her next opportunity to ride. Participating with HOPE stimulates her four senses hearing, seeing feeling, and smelling. She grooms, feeds, and rides a horse. She forms friendships with her therapist, the volunteers, other riders, their families, and the horses. She gets to be outside breathing the fresh air, under a beautiful Florida sky, at a well groomed piece of property. There’s nothing like seeing your child, who has so many limitations, express sheer joy squealing and giggling during her session.
My name is Peggy Chew, and I am a disabled veteran. I moved to this area four years ago, not knowing anyone.
One day I saw an ad on television about HOPE Horses helping people. So I asked my therapist to see about me going there.
I went there and my life changed for the better. I started riding again and the people who work there or the volunteers, are fantastic. I had a place to go where I was safe and could get to know people. I could spend time with the horses and talk to them about things I don’t talk about to anyone. The horses know, and they are very loving. Before I started going to HOPE, the only places I went was to the doctors or the grocery store.
I feel very fortunate to have found HOPE. I have made friends, my health has improved, still having balance issues, but I’m better.
HOPE is a lifesaver. There has been good times and bad times but with the horses and the friends I have made there gives me the will to keep trying and improving.