Dreams are coming true for many special needs children and their parents at a therapeutic riding stable in Cole Camp, and an April fundraising event hopes to expand those dreams.
Remember to Dream, a 501-C3 organization, located at Lost Springs Farm, just west of Cole Camp, has been changing young lives for years. On April 2 they will have a fundraising auction with proceeds going toward scholarships for children and families who can’t afford the therapy.
“Insurance does not cover equine therapy,” Brenda Huser, whose son is in the program said. “Families are on their own for this one. Often times families carry a heavy load on their shoulders.”
Families deal not only with their loved one’s illness but with medication and schooling plus many other issues.
“The list is very long,” Huser added. “Often times therapeutic sessions, where they’ve seen a great benefit, end because there isn’t enough funding to help. So, the barn’s goal is to able to raise enough funds for families who can’t support it. We can still help you to dream and give those families hope.”
Huser, of Sedalia, has watched what the simple act of riding a horse has done for her son Matthew Kurz, who sustained a traumatic brain injury in a vehicle accident 10 years ago.
“After Matthew was hurt, after seven months they said we’re going to send him home and they gave us very little hope,” she said. “But I was a stubborn mom, and I was going to hang in there. Matthew didn’t get to start (equine) therapy until four years ago.”
She added that when Matthew began therapy he was still in a wheelchair, was unable to hold his head up, could not speak well, and his right leg was spastic.
“The directors of the barn said ‘yes I think we can help,’” Huser noted. “They made a special wagon with a ramp just for Matthew. He was their only brain injury client at that time.
“He drove his wheel chair up the ramp and it took many people to get himover to the horse,” she added. “In time Matthew has achieved miraculous strides. He now can walk into the barn, no wheel chair needed, get on the horse, no problem. Rides with such freedom and self confidence.
“It has improved his mobility,” she said. “He can raise his right leg … and uses his right and left arm.”
Since beginning equine therapy, Kurz has began his own art business, selling original paintings online. He talks and makes jokes with family and clients and has gained self confidence. Seeing a special needs child began to heal in such a way is also a respite for the parent.
“For me as a mom I can’t tell you what joy it is, to be able to set for 30 minutes and watch my son be so happy,” Huser said.
Huser said she has observed the healing power of the horses with other children involved in the program.
“I have seen an autistic child, who was non verbal, get off the horse and turn to his mom and say ‘okay mom let’s go,’” she added.
She has also observed a Down Syndrome child who would not make eye contact or say hello, come out of her shell and begin to communicate.
“She will look up at me very bashfully and say hi, and that’s an achievement and a goal that, that family has,” Huser said. “I’ve seen a child with dyslexia, ride and have confidence, and I’ve seen a blind person ride a horse and feel free.”
Huser said equine therapy is one of the most “wonderful and miraculous gifts” her son could have received.
“It’s helped him in his marathon of recovery from his brain injury,” she noted. “He now is showing tremendous progress.”
Huser said she believes there are many benefits of equine therapy.
“(It’s) the synergistic movement of the horse,” she said. “When a person sits on the horse the same synergistic, left, right, movement triggers that movement in the brain. There is medical evidence showing that when that movement happens it helps regenerate nerves to connect. That is what has helped Matthew.”
According to experts equine riding therapy can strengthen muscles, improve range of motion, create a longer attention span benefiting the individual physically, emotionally and psychologically.
There is also something about the horse itself that calms the rider, much like a service animal used for the blind or for individuals with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.
“When Matthew rides his horse Frio, he gets the biggest smile,” Huser said. “The horse seems to know when Matthew isn’t sitting right. The horse stops, even before the trainer says ‘hey.’ The horse has a sense that the rider isn’t balanced right. It’s unique, the horse is very, very smart.”
She added that the horses are specifically trained for therapy riding.
Huser said she hopes bidders will attend the benefit auction that includes a truck tool box and a two day stay at Heits Point in Lincoln.
The barn is still accepting donations and items for the fundraising auction until March 31. If one is unable to donate funds, they may adopt a rider or adopt a horse. Lessons at Remember to Dream are $45 per lesson.
The auction will take place at 1 p.m. April 2 at Lost Springs Farm, 25388 Highway 52, just west of Cole Camp. For more information or to donate call Director Harvey Mueller at 287-3781.