OWENSBORO, Ky. (8/19/13) – Do dreams really come true?

That’s the question Dream Riders of Kentucky likes to answer ‘yes’ to every day. The program is in its eleventh year providing therapeutic horse-back riding services to disabled children and adults in the Daviess County area.
Mike Clark and Suzy Higdon both have disabled kids of their own, so they knew what dreams of ability were made of. It was a “humble” beginning for Clark and Higdon when they started Dream Riders with just one borrowed horse, eight special-needs kids, and eight volunteers.
“We started very simply, we had no money…we’ve worked hard to expand the program to what it is today,” Clark said.
Now, the program serves over 300 individuals and has 75 individuals volunteering over 3,500 hours each year. The program has a pretty extensive waiting list that shows the progress the therapy is making for children and adults.
“We’ve learned along the way,” Higdon agreed.
Dream Riders, located at Bittel Equestrian Center off of Hwy. 60, helps adults and children suffering traumatic brain injury, cerebral-palsy, and intellectual disabilities. The horses are a “non-conventional tool for therapy”, said Clark. A physical therapist helps to evaluate where the children are in their disability and to determine which horses and equipment are suitable for the riders based on compatibility and skill level.
Dream Riders prides themselves with having the most adaptive technology available with ramps, lifts, and saddles to accommodate each rider’s disability. Carriage rides are also available to provide the benefits of riding to individuals whose physical conditions don’t let them participate in the other programs.
“Our goal to turn a disability to an ability,” Clark said.
Riding lessons are given in 12-week sessions, Tuesday and Thursday nights, and Friday mornings during the summer months. Tuesday and Thursdays, Dream Riders hosts lessons for individuals and their families as part of their improvement program. The program includes parent input, measures of progress, and redirection for individuals, if needed. Friday morning lessons are reserved for group classes from local schools.
Volunteers of the program work whatever their schedules allow, but regardless, there are usually 25 volunteers a night; some with horse knowledge, some without. The volunteers are all ages, 14 and above, and are trained in safety procedures.
“Safety is a big issue for us,” Higdon said.
The riding helps with balance, flexibility, strength training, and social and cognitive skills, but Clark doesn’t think that’s all that Dream Riders gives individuals.
“It mostly benefits by giving them a joyful, happy spirit,” Clark said.
Dream Riders of Kentucky is a not-for-profit organization, which is funded entirely by donations. It costs $2,000 a year to feed and care for each horse. On September 21, Dream Riders will be hosting its biggest fundraiser, Jamboree, a carnival for kids. The festival will include pony rides, inflatables, clowns, and hayrides. The fundraiser is open to the public for $10 and will be held from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Bitell Equestrian Center.
Taylor Riley
SurfKY News
Photos provided by Taylor Riley

LIKE SurfKY on Facebook - Click here to LIKE us now.

© Copyright 2015 SurfKY News Group, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, or rewritten without permission. SurfKY News encourages you to share this story on social media.

In Other News...

AWHC at Methodist Hospital Offers Foot Health Tips during National Foot Health Awareness Month

HENDERSON, Ky. (4/24/15) — April is National Foot Health Awareness month and a time when the experts at the Advanced… Read More

Muhlenberg Falls to Lady Maroons

MADISONVILLE, Ky. (4/24/15) — Heather Webb pitched a perfect game to lead Madisonville-North Hopkins past visiting… Read More

Most Read This Week

April 17, 2015 11893

An Open Letter from an Addict

by Olivia Kirks
April 23, 2015 7473

Man Charged with Sodomy, Incest/Victim under 12

by SurfKY News
April 18, 2015 5777

Man Charged with Attempting to Coerce Minor for…

by Madisonville Police Department
April 20, 2015 4867

Nortonville Woman Charged with Meth Possession at…

by Madisonville Police Department
April 24, 2015 4070

UPDATE: Police Can't Substantiate Injured Man…

by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News

Most Read This Month

April 17, 2015 11893

An Open Letter from an Addict

by Olivia Kirks
April 02, 2015 8800

UPDATE: Madisonville Man Injured in Head-on…

by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News

Stories Trending Now

April 24, 2015 4070

UPDATE: Police Can't Substantiate Injured Man…

by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News
April 24, 2015 1068

Career Fair Provides Students Information about…

by Tammy Holloway, SurfKY News
April 25, 2015 1061

Above and Beyond: Wade Simons

by Gary Gates, SurfKY News
April 24, 2015 1029

Madisonville Police Arrest Reports Released -…

by SurfKY News
April 24, 2015 1021

Hopkins District Court Fines Handed Down

by Karen McKnight
April 24, 2015 973

Probation and Parole Violators - April 24, 2015

by Gary Gates, SurfKY News
April 23, 2015 925

Regional Eighth Grade Math Contest Held

by Joyce Riggs
April 24, 2015 917

Elementary Girls in Good GRACES with Unique…

by Tammy Holloway, SurfKY News
April 24, 2015 902

Baptist Health Holds ‘Walk in the Park’ as Part…

by Tammy Holloway, SurfKY News
April 24, 2015 890

Muhlenberg District Court Fines Handed Down

by Charles W. Riley II, SurfKY News