Standing Ovation by Ovation Riding: Give Back for Special Equestrians

Every week Horse Nation teams up with Ovation Riding to recognize those doing good in the horse world. Today we recognize Give Back for Special Equestrians, and their plea to help therapeutic horseback riding stables during the COVID-19 crisis.

Photo courtesy of Give Back for Special Equestrians

MIAMI, FL (April 27, 2020)Give Back for Special Equestrians, an all-volunteer nonprofit 501(c)3, is issuing an S.O.S Save Our Stables Emergency Relief Fund calling on the equestrian community to help save therapeutic horseback riding stables for disabled children and veterans throughout South Florida.

When schools closed on March 13 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, therapeutic horseback riding stables across South Florida were forced to close their barn doors. Without revenue from riding lessons and with high monthly operating and maintenance costs in excess of $500 per horse for basic necessities like shoes, shelter, shavings, hay, grain and veterinarian bills, therapeutic stables are struggling to care for the horses in their programs, many of which are older and require veterinary care. Without financial support, these riding facilities for the handicapped, will not be able to provide the life-changing equine therapy to special needs children and adults post pandemic.

“We are imploring horse lovers, those with loved ones in the special needs community and all of those who have the means to help – to come together to help support these therapeutic horseback riding stables in their hour of need. They are giving hope to those facing some of life’s most difficult physical, mental and emotional disabilities and they need our support urgently,” said Dr. Heather Kuhl, Give Back for Special Equestrians co-founder.

Photo courtesy of Give Back for Special Equestrians

There are currently 850 PATH certified riding stables in the United States. In South Florida, Give Back for Special Equestrians supports Good Hope Equestrian Training Facility in Homestead, Stable Place in Davie and Special Equestrians of the Treasure Coast in Vero Beach.

To a child or adult with a disability, life seems brighter on horseback. The horses seem to know and enjoy their jobs, gently carrying their special needs riders. Equine therapy has been used as a therapeutic aid for thousands of years. The ancient Greeks used horses to help people with incurable diseases and the first written mention of this was by Greek physician Hippocrates, known to many as the Father of Medicine. In modern times, equine therapy began to gain popularity in the 1950’s when Liz Hartel, paralyzed due to polio, won the silver medal in dressage in the 1953 Olympic Games. Soon after, therapists around the world paired therapeutic riding with physical therapy and found amazing results.

Some of the many benefits from equine therapy include:

  • Improved balance, muscle strength and coordination
  • Increased range of motion of joints
  • The horses’ heat and 3-dimensional gait at the walk assists the rider to stretch tight muscles and decrease spasticity
  • Stimulates sensory integration
  • Increases urged endurance and low-level radio vascular or condition

“I have been blessed to see children with Autism connect with their horse and say their first word” said, Dr. Peggy Bass, Executive Director of Good Hope Equestrian Training Center. Thanks to therapeutic riding, children and adults are able to develop their strength, coordination, enhance their fine and gross motor skills, while also building their self-confidence in an inclusive environment.” But without immediate financial support, and not knowing how long this crisis might take, we will not be able to continue caring for our horses and ponies in the program – leaving our students like Star, who has CP, Dylan who has Autism and Amy who suffers with Downs Syndrome able to continue their therapeutic journey.”

Photo courtesy of Give Back for Special Equestrians

Give Back for Special Equestrians is an all-volunteer nonprofit founded in 2013 by Sissy De Maria Koehne, Dr. Heather Kuhl and Isabel Ernst that provides therapeutic horseback riding scholarships for disabled children and veterans in Florida and New York. The organization is made up of horse lovers who are passionate about sharing the joy that horses have brought into their own lives with those facing some of life’s most difficult challenges such as Autism, Paralysis and PTSD. Give Back for Special Equestrians has proudly raised more than $100k in support of disabled equestrians.

To make your tax free donation and support our Emergency Relief fund – Save Our Stables (S.O.S.), please click here, visit our website at or call 305.608.5350.

Many thanks thanks to Ovation Riding for their support of both Horse Nation and individuals and organizations that are doing good work in the horse world. If you know someone who deserves a Standing Ovation, we would love to recognize them in a future post. Email the name of the person or organization along with a message about the good work they do to [email protected]. Photos/videos are always welcome, and include a link to their website if applicable.