Kimberly Childs has a dream – to open up the world of equine therapy to people around the globe. As the founder and chief cheerleader for Making Strides Therapeutic Horsemanship, she’s doing her part, one client at a time.
Joining her on the journey: a stable of predominately retired racehorses, embarking on their second career. As Kimberly explains, the program benefits the horses almost as much as the clients they help. “Providing second chances for thoroughbreds who are retiring from the track gives them a sense of value,” she points out.
Making Strides follows the Equine-Assisted Activity and Therapy model, teaching riders life skills through activities that encourage cognitive, physical and social skill development. For 8-year-old Ally, it’s just fun.
“Ally is always very excited the night before her lesson; she loves all the horses,” her grandfather explains. But while she’s having fun, she’s also getting stronger and improving her balance – benefits that stay with her long after her riding session is complete.
Volunteer Allison Langlitz, a physical therapist at a local hospital, sees those positive impacts repeated every time she enters the Making Strides barn. “It is incredibly rewarding to watch a child talk and sing and interact while on a horse, and to see their improvements in strength and balance,” she says. “Horses are magical animals and it is great to be able to share this magic with others.”