A true story of how quality health & wellness programs make a difference.
Marcus is a teen who needs assistance walking, and has for most of his life. He first started as an intern in the writing center for the Franklin County 4H Therapeutic Riding Center during his senior year of high school. Marcus would go to the barn three days a week and work on different things from fundraising to tack cleaning to lesson planning to training horses.
"Marcus grew from nervous and unsure of himself in the first riding sessions to self-assured and more confident as his experience and abilities improved.”
The Therapeutic Riding Center serves individuals with special needs ranging from age 4 to over 65 with diagnoses from autism to birth defects to neuro-muscular problems. The program is designed to provide riders an active outlet for improving their physical development and mental health.
When Marcus graduated high school, he continued volunteering with the Center. One of his favorite things to do was work with one of the newer horses, Mallo. The horse was extremely anxious most of the time and could be difficult to handle. Marcus worked with Mallo, starting simple and working toward more difficult tasks. Later that summer, he began taking riding lessons on Mallo. "He challenged me and kept me thinking. All he needed was time, patience, and a clear understanding of what was being asked of him," said Marcus. "Now Mallo is a calm and reliable program horse who can be trusted to give pony rides and is teaching a beginning rider."
Through horseback riding and grooming lessons, riders like Marcus at the Therapeutic Riding Center benefit from increased core body strength and flexibility, more emotional control for interactions with others, and building of self-confidence for accomplishing tasks that were once unattainable.
“Similar to many of our clients, Marcus grew from nervous and unsure of himself in the first riding sessions to self-assured and more confident as his experience and abilities improved,” said Susan Rotz, director of the center.
Marcus grew to love horseback riding so much that he continues to be an active volunteer at the Therapeutic Riding Center, and was just asked to join the program council. He has also realized a new dream of horse ownership. His horse is now an addition to the program, at no lease to the organization, which enables the Center to serve more special needs clients.
"The barn has given me a lot over these last couple of years and I look forward to being able to do more to give back. Not to mention continue to learn and to grow," said Marcus.