Do you ever wonder about those chance meetings you experience? For Yvette Pegues, such serendipity has been life-changing.
“I fell in love with horses as a child when my best friend introduced me to her horse, Foxy,” said Pegues, a rider at Heaven’s Gait Therapeutic Riding (HGTR). “While I didn’t ride much as an adult, horses remained special to me. Decades later, after suffering a traumatic brain/spinal cord injury, which caused paralysis from the waist down, I was warned never to ride a horse again.”
“Fast forward to when my husband met Kelly Rickard, director of HGTR, at our local DIY store,” Pegues said. “My husband’s curiosity spurred him to spark up a conversation with Kelly. He shared my love of horses with her. I’ve been learning to ride with the team at HGTR on my hoofed friend, Freddie, ever since. I’ve experienced physical, cognitive and emotional improvement both inside and outside of the arena. This experience has truly been heavenly and healing. I thank God for leading us here.”
Divine appointments like this have been happening repeatedly since HGTR’s founding, in 2016. The organization’s mission is to provide emotional, physical and social benefits to children and adults with special needs through the use of horses and equine-assisted activities. Equine-assisted activities include the use of therapeutic horseback riding and ground work in order to achieve goals that enhance healing of the mind, body and spirit. There is also a focus on development of the relationship between horse and rider.
HGTR offers instruction through the use of PATH International (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship) certified instructors. Rickard and her team love to help adults and children on the path to renewed health and vitality. And thanks to a generous grant of a Hoyer lift from Andy’s Army Medical Equipment, riders are safely lifted on and off horseback.
“Discovering Heaven’s Gait has truly been an answer to my prayers,” said Jenny Bruce, mom of rider, Emsley. “Emsley has been fighting cancer for two years now. When she started therapy two months ago, she was wheelchair-bound. Emsley has already advanced to a walker and shares a new enthusiasm for life. Although we spend many hours in medical settings treating her physical body, an hour on a horse every week has proven to meet her needs, both emotionally and mentally. She’s the girl I remember before the diagnosis of a brain tumor when she’s on horseback.”
Perhaps you know someone who would benefit from the healing power of horses, like Yvette, Emsley or Skylar, another HGTR rider who said, “I wish every day was riding day.”
HGTR offers summer day camps, where riders are led by trained, one-on-one instructors. While attending camp, riders will participate in the following activities:
• Daily riding instruction
• Sensory trail stations
• Proper grooming techniques
• Barn chores
• Care of tack
• Games and crafts
For more information or to make a donation, visit hgtrinc.com, or contact Kelly Rickard at firstname.lastname@example.org. HGTR is located at Alpha Equestrian Center, 2471 E. Cherokee Drive, Woodstock.
– Susan Schulz is a Bible teacher and mentor who lives and plays on the Etowah River in Canton. Connect with her on social media or at susanbrowningschulz.com.