Therapeutic riding group reaches out - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Therapeutic riding group reaches out

Thomasville- "Hands and Hearts for Horses" is in dire need of volunteers. They use horse therapy to help disabled and mentally challenged people outside of the hospital.

     Mentally challenged students from all over Thomas County come to "Hands and Hearts for Horses" to stimulate their bodies and their hearts. Instructors say it's one way to turn physical therapy into a fun activity when the kids are burned out on it. "They've been in hospitals and sterile environments for so long, this is another way to stretch muscles, and develop strength and skills in another setting," says Therapeutic Riding Instructor Martha Hanna.

     The program is so beneficial for these kids because horses are one of the few animals that moves like we do. "If a person cannot walk normally, the horse mimics that gate for them. It actually moves their hips the same way they would if they're walking normally.," says Hanna.

     The program is also therapy of sorts for the volunteers. "It's a great blessing. You know, that you could just be a part of that child's life. It really is," says volunteer Jan White.

     Not only are the volunteers and horses a part of the children's lives, it could be said that they're a necessity. "I've seen the results of the horses, and the ability to help the children," says White.

     That shows how it's a great thing when physical help couples with spiritual help for the people in need, and the volunteers. "Watching the smiles on those children and riders faces, that's all you need," says Hanna.

     If you're interested in volunteering, "Hands and Hearts for Horses" is hosting an open house March 5th at their facility in Thomasville. The Southwest Georgia Therapeutic Riding Center in Lee County is also looking for volunteers.

Posted by stephen.ryan@walb.com

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