Fulfilling Dreams for Special-Needs Children

Posted on:

The John William Pope Foundation’s new Grantee Profile focuses on the Helping Horse Therapeutic Riding Program, a nonprofit that provides equestrian therapy to special-needs children in Wake County and the surrounding area:

For many developmentally challenged youngsters, a miracle is waiting on a 13-acre farm north of Raleigh: a horse.

Time on horseback can be life changing for special-needs children. Some children speak their first words while riding. Directing a powerful animal like a horse boosts confidence, improves coordination, and teaches valuable skills — skills that can set kids on a path to new life.

Such dreams come true every week at Helping Horse, a therapeutic riding program that helps children grow and develop through recreational activities with horses. Founded in 1989, Helping Horse serves an average of 30 riders each week.

The program is run entirely by volunteers — up to 75 a week — and has no paid staff. In 1997, the program moved to its current location on the White Farm north of Raleigh, North Carolina.

“I’ve had a lot of parents tell me that their kids are so much better today than they were in the past — in walking better and living better,” said Toni Hofsheier, who serves as Helping Horse’s instructor coordinator. “At the same time, I feel that I get a lot more out of it personally than the kids do. It’s very rewarding.”

Read more Grantee Profiles here.