For a quarter of a century, The Right Path has been helping Oklahomans’ with special needs achieve their highest potential through a unique equine-assisted therapy program.
“We like to say that The Right Path can benefit anyone who has life challenges,” explains Julie Jones, who leads the nonprofit’s public relations efforts. “From staff to participants to volunteers to family members, every person has things in life that challenge them. Our horses don’t care; they offer healing that comes without judgment.”
That healing can take many forms. The Right Path currently runs five programs, including therapeutic riding and cart-driving for children and adults with unique challenges, horsemanship classes for veterans, and a youth development initiative. Each class has a distinct focus, but with the help of The Right Path’s four-legged heroes, participants develop trusting relationships, practice communication skills, build physical strength, and gain self-esteem and confidence. The horses prove to be great motivators, even when COVID-19 restrictions keep clients and horses apart. Just ask Ethan.
Ethan was a regular at The Right Path. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and his physician called off outside activities. Visiting his favorite horse, Zyro, was no longer optional. Ethan worried that Zyro would forget him, but the dedicated volunteers at The Right Stuff came to the rescue. Now Ethan gets regular emails from Zyro. “Helping Ethan know that Zyro is still here, waiting for him will hopefully encourage him on the days that he struggles to be home,” Julie says.
Long-time volunteer Joshalyn Ocker sums up the organization’s purpose with one simple word: freedom. “It’s freedom from stress and disability and judgment and stigma and stereotype,” she says. “It’s freedom from the things that restrict us from achieving our best and it helps us become what we’re meant to be.”