As we continue to reflect and give thanks for the many ways God has provided for La Casa over the past twenty years, we have to take a moment to talk our therapeutic riding program.
Whitney grew up very much a part of helping out at La Casa. She volunteered alongside her parents on weekends, vacation times and any other chance she had. She loved the children and felt God whispering in her ear repeatedly that He had plans for her life that included La Casa. She also had a love for horses. To obtain her P.E. credit in high school, she took horseback riding lessons and fell in love with horses. When she went off to university, she knew there had to be a way to combine her passions. It wasn’t long before she discovered that she could combine her passion for children and horses by studying Therapeutic Horsemanship.
During her Sophomore year, she returned to El Salvador during her winter break. It was during that time that she suffered injuries from being hit by a car that kept her out of school for the next semester. Was her pursuit over? No, God spared her life, and she had even more passion to finish her studies.
After graduating with her degree, she took a job at a riding center not far from where she attended school. But first, she returned to El Salvador for the summer. It was during that time that she knew God was putting things into place. She began volunteering at a local therapeutic riding center learning the ropes of care of horses in El Salvador. A man through church offered to purchase her first two horses. She used a small piece of land on the farm to build some temporary stalls. The children at La Casa would come out to the farm on weekends to ride.
During annual Community Christmas parties, she met children and adolescents in the community who could benefit from therapeutic riding. Soon, she began to serve children in the community as well.
Therapeutic Riding in its simplest form is teaching children to ride horses. It is fun and provides exercise. However, what many people do not know is that these riding lessons can be used to achieve other goals: educational, physical, and/or emotional. It helps the children address fear and anger and develops trust and self-control.
This past week, a GlobalX Team for Atlanta, Georgia came down to work alongside La Casa and its therapeutic riding program. It was evident that this team had a heart for horses and the children.
Remember the “temporary stalls” that had been built years ago? Although they had been added to over the years as other horses became part of the program, they are still in use. But, someone had donated funding to build a barn, and it is near completion. This team worked to paint the barn, inside and out. They also were able to see the children ride and the impact that the riding program has had on many of the children.
We are so thankful for hearts that come alongside and serve with us to accomplish much! God has blessed us with an incredible way to serve the children and aide in the healing process through the therapeutic riding program. To Him be the glory!