Cora had an unforgettable experience the other day.
Although she didn’t fully understand the magnitude of what was going on, she will definitely remember being able to ride on “Bo” outside for a long while. Here’s a picture she drew of their ride together.
Cora started therapeutic riding lessons at Dreams on Horseback close to a year ago, and it changed our lives. It’s a program designed specifically to help individuals with special needs overcome their own challenges from atop one of their therapy horses. Trained and certified instructors use fun activities and games to encourage their students to solve problems, face fears, and complete physical tasks as they grow in competence.
Not only do they offer therapeutic riding lessons, but they offer equine assisted learning, Alzheimer’s sensory experiences, vocational training, military/veteran programs and much more. Located in Blacklick, Ohio, Dreams on Horseback has a strong mission to help individuals with challenges “improve their lives through horse-partnered learning experiences and education.”
Some of you may remember when Jordan and I were tirelessly trying to figure out how to handle a constantly: sick, scared, spitting, screaming, hitting, tantruming, and very angry little jaguar. While many of those behaviors can be normal for a toddler, some of them were red flags and surpassed what some experts considered to be “normal” for her age.
Cora had difficulty with loud sounds, spacial awareness, sleeping, being in large crowds, and playing with other kids. Overall, she struggled with processing social situations and regulating her emotions. Gaining insight into her speech issues also helped us immensely.
Today, Cora still screams, runs, and hides when the doorbell rings. She becomes paralyzed with fear when walking into certain stores, or when a bug lands on her skin. And, she would definitely much rather be an animal than a human. Some days are way trickier to navigate than others. But for the most part, we found tools that work for us. One of our biggest tools is riding lessons.
Having Cora ride horses changed our lives, and we’re not the only ones.
The therapeutic lessons that Dreams on Horseback provides, hands-down has dramatically influenced Cora’s adaptability, her motor skills and coordination, and her ability to regulate. After a year of riding, Cora is a completely different little girl. While we made multiple changes inside and outside of the home, her opportunity to ride horses has expedited her progress.
Attending lessons gives Cora something to look forward to each week, because she gets to interact with animals. “Horses are my spirit animal,” Cora says often. It allows her to meet new and different people, which encourages her level of comfort-ability around strangers. I could keep listing the wonderful benefits, but I’m digressing from the real reason for this blog post.
So what about this unique experience Cora had?
Well, she had the pleasure of meeting the Bell-Wallace family (pictured above) for a special one-on-one riding lesson with them to help showcase and bring awareness to the program at the barn.
The Bell-Wallace Family helped create the therapeutic lessons at Dreams on Horseback AND are finalists for the FIRST EVER Disney & Points of Light Volunteer Family of the Year award!
Thousands of families were nominated across the country, but they are one of the top five finalists for their amazing family dedication to volunteering. Chills! They are being honored by Disney & Points of Light (one of the largest volunteering organizations).
GUYS I am so excited that an Ohio family is one of the finalists this year! And that it’s where Cora rides! If the Bell-Wallace family is chosen, they will win a $10,000 dollar reward to be donated to Dreams on Horseback. This amount of money will greatly impact and benefit tons of individuals, here in our local community, who face a variety of challenges.
Below you’ll find the Bell-Wallace’s story, and a link to where you can vote for them to win the award. Voting for them will not only recognize their amazing service, but will help change the lives of so many people.
It’s up to the public to vote for the winner, so we really need your help. You can vote every single day from now until October 22nd.
To vote: 1) Click the link below. 2) Find the Bell-Wallace Family and click on their picture. 3) Input your email and name. It’s super simple, and will make an incredible difference for our Columbus Community.
Read The Bell-Wallace Story:
Kevin and Carey Wallace approached Dreams on Horseback 17 years with an unusual request. They asked the organization if it could offer a therapeutic horse program for their then-4-year-old daughter Morgan, who had been diagnosed with autism.
Dreams on Horseback, which had participated in inner-city outreach efforts, hadn’t delved into therapeutic horse programming until that moment. But Kevin and Carey’s delight at Morgan’s progress spurred a deep connection with the agency.
Since that time, Kevin and Carey have both gone one to join Dreams on Horseback’s executive board, collecting serving for 25 years, and Kevin has even held the role of board president since 2009.
What’s more, Morgan’s grandparents, Darlene and George Bell, also joined as volunteers, with Darlene expanding Dreams on Horseback’s therapeutic offerings with the creation of a program to help support veterans experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Morgan’s sister, Lindsay, is also involved in the group, with three generations of Bell-Wallace family active embracing the mission to “help people with challenges improve their lives through horse-partnered learning experiences and education.”
And it’s been beneficial closer to home, teaching Morgan how to help others in need, instilling great qualities in both their daughters and built long-lasting relationships and friendships. With the emphasis on family, no wonder the Bell-Wallaces say, “To get involved, you have to get involved with something that you are super passionate about.”
*A special thanks to Dreams on Horseback and to the Bell-Wallace family for inviting Cora to be a part of something so wonderful. And to Disney & Points of Light for recognizing families who are dedicating their lives & time to service*