The quiet side...

After the Derby, when the tents are taken down, the linens pressed and put away, the hats stuffed with tissue and stored in their boxes, we rest for a little while.

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Taylor Porter

On the first Saturday in May, in a gentrified fashion, we celebrate with the world the gifts that are born here in the cradle of the bluegrass. However, it's the quiet side of this special place that I love the most. The side that humbly gives back every day of the year.

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When we moved to Kentucky, the first thing our family did was get a dog. Along came sweet Gracie. The next thing on the list was a horse. Whoa! Let's learn to take care of the dog first. Pssst...Just so you know, I loved the thought of having a barn for an art studio, guest quarters, barn dances, but not a horse.  Those of you who know me aren't surprised by this.

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Taylor Porter

I felt that the kids needed to be around horses and learn from the ground up, like their dad. That first summer I wanted them hot & dusty in cut-offs, cleaning tack & mucking stalls. Well, Collier picked up a baseball bat and never looked back but Taylor went for it!

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Taylor Porter

Just minutes from our place is the Kentucky Horse Park and where Taylor discovered Riding for Hope. Riding for Hope is a 27-year-old program that uses horses to strengthen muscles, improve balance, and build self-confidence in children and adults who have physical, cognitive, emotional and social needs.

click for more information

She signed up to volunteer which gave her the opportunity to lead a horse, to groom and help saddle it. Encouraging disabled riders to achieve their best gave her a real source of accomplishment.

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Taylor Porter

It takes more than just the reins to turn a horse; riders use their eyes and heads, and twist the body side to side to help direct the horse. You lean slightly forward to go faster and sit up tall and deep to slow down. All of these exercises help to improve motor skills and core strength.

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The movement of the horse mimics walking for humans.

There is a sixth-sense, a magic that happens between rider and horse!

  And as riders progress, depending on their physical ability, they can improve coordination skills as well as balance, core, and leg strength.

Everyone feels the pride of accomplishment when a rider works hard to master the skills taught in a therapeutic riding lesson.

  At CKRH, obstacles are overcome everyday, and it all begins with volunteers.

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Every weekend that Taylor went out to the park she learned more and more. Even though she wasn't certified to assist alongside riders, she and the other young volunteers were part of the hay crew.

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Taylor Porter

They prepared each horse for the individual rider and their specific lesson, cleaned the stalls during the lesson and were ready and waiting when the lesson was over to clean and put it all away.

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Taylor Porter

She will tell you that there is nothing better than hearing a rider speak their first words while on horseback, or sharing the amazement of a student as they touch the soft nose of their equine partner for the very first time.

  And speaking of partners, I can tell you that the horses at Riding for Hope are every bit as special as their riders.

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This is Annie. She is is a 14.2 hand sorrel Quarter Horse cross mare. Initially rescued from horrifying neglect, Annie was nursed back to health before joining the program in 2005.

 Infinitely patient with students, she adores being painted or standing in as the model for the body parts quiz in which students attach Velcro cards bearing the names of the horse’s parts to their respective areas. She once waited patiently for nearly five minutes as a young student struggled to attach the “nose” card. After repeated attempts, Annie gently, but firmly, placed her nose into the student’s palm and held it there until the card was affixed.

After operating out of a barn for nearly three decades, CKRH now has a brand new home!

On the same beautiful property they now have an indoor arena which can nearly double the hours an autistic child or one with cerebral palsy can feel as though they are masters of the universe!

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The new facility has an outdoor arena as well, along with a great sensory trail that includes a wooded area, a pond, shade and breezes.

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Taylor Porter

Volunteering at CKRH gave Taylor the opportunity she was looking for to learn about horses.  Little did she know that she was learning to be a part of something extraordinary.

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Taylor Porter

CKRH is a non-profit program that is completely dependent upon community support. Funding and volunteer support is provided by numerous individuals as well as various community service-based organizations.

CKRH Drive

CKRH is accredited by the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association (NARHA). It is one of 694 such facilities nationwide.

click for more information

Photos courtesy of CKRH and Taylor Porter

17 comments:

Elizabeth said...

awesome post! i love it. this is such a great foundation. you must be so proud that your daughter is so involved in something that gives back so much to those with special needs

Alicia said...

Such an inspring, moving me to tears story. Hailey officially got the horse bug from her mom but it didnt bloom til last summer in Charleston. I'm forwarding this to her. It will make her heart "squishy happy."

Hazel Martin Designs said...

What a beautiful and heart warming post! I've lived here most of my life and had no idea this program existed. Congrats to them on their new facilities!

Linda@ Lime in the Coconut said...

Beautiful post with such touching pictures...the wheelchair in the field tells so much!

At a competition last weekend, I saw someone with the riding for hope t-shirt on...and wondered what it was. We have a program similar called special equestrians.

Thanks for the touching post

Julienne said...

I so enjoyed this. With a Grandson with asbergers, dyspraxia and cerebal palsy (poor kid couldn't win a trick) I always love to hear about places like this. (Harry by the way has just competed in his third, or is it fourth(?) special Olympics, so he allows nothing to hold him back!)

Elle said...

What a fantastic and uplifting post, and what a great girl you're raising! Thank you so much for sharing this, with all the horrible news coming in from the gulf... my heart needed to be uplifted!~

JMW said...

Riding for Hope is such a wonderful organization. It's amazing to see the effect the horses have on those who ride them. They really do have a sixth sense. Cheers to your daughter for volunteering for that organization. I'm sure it's something she'll always treasure. Thanks for featuring this side of Kentucky and our beautiful horses - one of the many reasons why I love living here! :)

Lisa said...

Thank you all for stopping by. It really is such a great way to get involved. There are wonderful organizations around the globe that offer hippotherapy, and thank goodness. It's also a heartwarming way give sweet horses the attention that they deserve.
Appreciate your comments!
Lisa

Anne Lubner Designs said...

What a beautiful story! Your words and photos brought me right there-I could feel the joy and hope the Riding for Hope program brings and it brought tears to my eyes. You must be so proud of your daughter! I'm telling my horse-lovin' family and friends about this post. Thank you for making my heart smile. oxo Anne

Michelle said...

What an inspiring post and amazing organization!

Linda Merrill said...

What a beautiful post about an amazing program. And Taylor's photos are truly journalistic - telling a wonderful visual story all on their own. The wheelchair in the field is truly an extraordinary photo.

Renae said...

Lisa,
I have tears in my eyes...such a wonderful program and I know your sweet Taylor's life has been so enriched. I am going to pass this post on to a friend of mine in VA that is a counselor for this type of program. Thanks so much for illustrating this in such a beautiful way (a gift you have).
xo

Catherine Frinier said...

Absolutely lovely story and posts. Beautiful. Thank you.

Norbridge Antiques said...

Thank you for taking the time to write this beautiful post. Beautiful in every sense of the word.

The Antiques Diva™ said...

What a special foundation - thanks for sharing about it!
Toma

Coty Farquhar said...

Lisa, This is such a wonderful post and I know Taylor would have loved doing this.

Rebecca did this with school only once and she loved it so much, I wish she was still involved.

Beautiful story and such lovely photographs. You do live in such a lovely part of the world.

xx Coty

My Dog-Eared Pages said...

I had previously missed this. It's such a lovely story and with wonderful photos to match. It must be so rewarding to witness these moments of such beautiful connection. ox