When I tell Katie we are going to horse therapy, she smiles. When she sees her volunteers, she beams with joy in her heart. When she gets on her horse, she tries her hardest to get her body to do what it is supposed to do. When she sees her friends, she has confidence. When the horse begins to trot, she giggles her heart out. When she tells others that she rides a horse, she is so proud of herself.
Horse therapy is pure joy to a child with special needs. Thanks for all you do! We are very grateful.
Jennifer, Katie, Amy and Wade
My son has been riding at MTRC for a little over three years. He has autism and even though he had been through over three years of weekly occupational therapy, he was still behind his age level in gross and fine motor skills. Within the first few months of riding, it was obvious that his coordination, strength, and balance had improved. But the wonderful thing is that Chris, her staff and the horses make it so fun for the kids that they don't know they are "working" to improve their skills - they are just having fun!
In addition to physical improvements in my son, working with the staff and the horses has also raised his self-esteem and self-confidence. That confidence shows through in all other parts of his life, including school. I have seen Chris and her staff work with many children that have a wide range of abilities and needs and they are all able to assess each child and determine the best approach for them. The horses are all very gentle and seem to know what each child needs. I would highly recommend MTRC to anyone, but especially to the parents of children with special needs.
My daughter has been riding at MTRC since before it came into being. Chris and her staff believe in the student's abilities. In my opinion, that makes all the difference to the riders and their families. I cannot praise this program enough!!!! My daughter has a chromosonal abnormality and spinal bifida oculta. Both have caused very low muscle tone throughout her body and very poor balance. The horses are magical for her. When she's walking with one, you could never tell she can't even walk across a street without assistance. She leads the horses independently!
When on horseback, she sits up straight. Her attention span has improved and she has gained problem-solving skills. The rapport that Chris and her staff have with the students is fantastic. You can tell they know how important the horses are to their student's lives. Anyone who is even remotely considering riding for their child (with special needs or not) should take a look at MTRC. I will never take my child anywhere else.
Having spent the last 3 years volunteering at a horse rescue and 2 years before that at a therapeutic riding facility, I knew that I wanted to find another horse-related volunteer position when I moved to CO from WA last summer. A friend suggested that I check out Miracles to see if it would be a good fit, so I dropped by one Saturday morning and met Chris and Carolyn and watched a couple of classes.
My previous experience as a side walker was at a riding facility where the classes were quite large and because of that, there was always a swirl of activity involving people and horses: time was in short supply and there were lots of bodies to orchestrate. The classes were large enough that it often felt like we were all participating in a parade and given the time constraints and the number of students, the instructor had only limited time to pay individual attention to each student. This is not to say that the folk at this facility weren’t doing wonderful things for and with their students. They certainly were! But there were challenges in working in that environment and I was a little hesitant about visiting Miracles.
I was VERY happy to find that Miracles is a very different place. I just thought, “Wow. This is amazing.” In no particular order, here are some of the things that make Miracles special:
If a barn can be called “warm and fuzzy,” then the barn where Miracles holds its classes is warm and fuzzy. but what that really means is that it’s the people at Miracles and the horses themselves that make the barn feel that way.
It is absolutely a family-oriented place where staff and volunteers are greeted with hugs by students and readily return those hugs because it’s impossible not to become attached to these wonderful kids and their parents.
The horses are as gentle and patient as the staff members are kind and warm.
The classes are very small, allowing for plenty of one-on- one time between student and instructor and student and volunteers.
There are lots of smiles and A LOT of laughter, but when a student is having a hard day, there is also compassion and understanding.
Because of the smaller class sizes, students can help groom and tack their horses if they are able and wish to do so, and part of the end-of- class routine is always that the student gets to present his or her horse with a treat. (Have you ever seen a horse quiver in anticipation? Well, it happens regularly here!)
It’s all very hands-on and because the classes are so small, it’s much easier for volunteers to get to know the students as individuals, which in turns helps with when class is in session.
Miracles is a place run by people who embrace all of the students and celebrate each student’s individuality, and they truly value their volunteers. Chris and her staff build connections with their students and there is no doubt that every single student that passes down the barn aisle and into the arena is near and dear to the big, warm Miracles heart.