- What does HorseFriends do?
HorseFriends offers therapeutic horseback riding to special needs individuals FREE of charge. We conduct classes for those who have autism, cerebral palsy, downs syndrome, spina bifida, and TBI. We also offer therapeutic riding for individuals with behavioral disorders such as ADHD. The entire family is welcome to come out to the class to observe.
Riding stimulates the rider’s physical and mental abilities and has been proven to help children with autism. According to a 2009 study in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders: “Children with autism who rode horses as therapy showed improvements in several social skills after 12 weeks of therapy…. Children were improved in sensory seeking and sensitivity. They also had more social motivation and were less distracted.” (Bass, Duchowny, & Llabre)
- Where does HorseFriends take place?
We hold our classes at our new location: 5920 Khaki Place, Summerfield, NC 27358. Classes take place on Monday-Friday evenings from 4:30-5:30 pm and on Wednesday and Saturday mornings from 10:00-11:30 am.
- Who comes to HorseFriends?
HorseFriends welcomes any child or adult with a physical, neurological, or social/emotional challenge. We strive to help individuals live as normally as they can while enjoying the outdoors and the friendliness of our volunteer staff and our wonderful therapy horses. All potential participants go through a screening process to determine if they are fit to ride.
- Do you charge any fee for your services?
We do not charge any fees for our services. This is a real blessing for the families whom we serve. All operating expenses are financed by charitable donations. We have discovered that families who have a child with autism or another disability, pay exorbitant fees for medical and professional services. According to a 2010 study published in the NY Times, “‘It can cost $3.2 million to take care of an autistic person over the course of his or her lifetime…’.” Given this circumstance, we happily provide all of our services with NO CHARGE to our participants. Donations go directly to the needs of the horses and the program.
- What do you mean by “spiritual”?
We at HorseFriends know that God put horses on this earth for many reasons, one of which is to help people. The horses and tranquil surroundings help to break down barriers, which increases spiritual awareness. True spiritual healing can only happen through a relationship with His son, Jesus Christ. We endeavor to help others understand the love that God has specifically for them.
- How did HorseFriends get started?
Seeing the need for therapeutic riding to be combined with emotional and spiritual growth, Dr. Emilie Storch sought out other women with a similar vision. The book ‘Hope Rising’ inspired the women that joined together to begin something in NC that would be from a Christian perspective. Because the group that formed had an experienced horseback riding instructor, a pastor, and a psychologist, it seemed that all three areas combined would be a very effective strategy to help those at risk. In February 2005, the nonprofit group HorseFriends began.
- How is HorseFriends organized?
We are a non-profit, 501-c3 organization, run by a Board of Directors, Class Instructors, and our volunteer staff (VIPs–“Volunteers Impacting Participants.”) Our Board members have a strong desire to see people gain a better quality of life through horses and through the love of Jesus Christ. We have two certified therapeutic horseback riding instructors (with P.A.T.H.), and three other leaders in process of receiving their certifications.
- How can I contribute to HorseFriends?
We appreciate donations of all kinds. We need funds to help pay for operating costs, including horses, tack, equipment, veterinary assistance, horseshoeing, and feed. We need volunteers to help with the horses and as sidewalkers for our participants. We need prayers for wisdom and strength to use our organization to its best efficiency.
- Who can volunteer with HorseFriends?
HorseFriends will gladly consider any individual who is 13 years old or older. HorseFriends conducts regular training sessions for eligible volunteers who wish to help with the horses and the participants.
- Where do your horses come from?
We use horses that have been donated to HorseFriends, as well as horses that are owned by individuals. The horses must meet strict requirements before they are allowed to participate in our programs. We appreciate the caring individuals who have so generously donated their horses for use in our programs.