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Faith Equestrian Center hosts open house for new season of therapy riding

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Faith Equestrian Therapeutic Center is a non-profit PATH (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship) member center that has been teaching and training children and adults with disabilities since 2006.

It costs about $325 for a 13 week session per student though they are willing to work with those on a limited income and they do accept donations to keep the program running.

One of their therapeutic programs is called Horses for Heroes and is designed and dedicated to helping wounded service men and women recover not only from physical injuries, but mental and emotional problems caused by traumatic events they have witnessed during war.

On Saturday, August 2nd, the center hosted an open house, silent auction, farrier demonstration, tour of the barn and property and had enough food and drink to feed a small community.

The event started with a ribbon cutting ceremony and a drill team demonstration with father and son duo, Mike Horton Sr. and Jr.

Bonnie Rachael, founder and CEO of Faith Equestrian Therapeutic Center, opens the even with a hear felt prayer, thanking the Lord for the beautiful day.

It may be overcast with gray skies, but their is a hurricane a few hundred miles to the south of us and it rained all night long, threatening to make the open house a wash out, but the rain stays away the entire day and everyone has fun touring the facilities and greeting the horses and the volunteers and even a Special Olympics rider.

Rachel has over 40 years experience working with horses and was even a mounted police officer in Savannah in the early 1990s.

She says she felt drawn by God to open up a therapeutic riding center in Guyton off of Blue Jay road on a street appropriately known as Appaloosa Way, though most of the horses at the center seem to be pintos and sorrels.

Research into therapeutic riding and even simply brushing and training horses has shown it to be beneficial for the health and well being of those who are suffering from depression and anxiety and the slow rocking movement a well trained horse maintains with paraplegic and injured or limited range of motion riders has been shown to be physically stimulation and helps with balance and motor control while at the same time building confidence and an empathy with the animal responding to the rider's controls.

Riding programs have been used to treat autistic riders as well with good success, but maintaining a barn, pasture and horses is not cheap and the group wants to expand their facility to offer more opportunities for riders with a covered riding area to protect from wind, rain and summer heat and winter cold.

They'd also like to put in a sidewalk and deepen an existing pond as well as put in a work station where those with disabilities could groom a horse and learn how to care for them as well.

Each project costs several thousand dollar and they have already come a long way with partnerships with various companies and individuals, but there is always room for improvement and they welcome donations as well as volunteers to help with the program.

They even have a wish list on their contributions page from everything from a large tractor to toilet paper and office supplies.

They also accept cash donations to help purchase grain and supplements as well as cover farrier, dental, and vet costs and other expenses. Any donation, no matter how small, is greatly appreciated, by the volunteers staff, horses, riders and wounded warriors.

Guests at the open house were treated to sub sandwiches, cake, cookies, fresh fruit, a variety of horse and non-horse related auction items at reasonable starting bids and even a farrier demonstration where they could learn how to heat and shaped metal into artwork.

Farrier Gerald Douberly patiently worked on various projects, explaining the steps he was taking and grinning as everyone gathered around to marvel at his skills.

Rachel, who was handed one of the finished projects; a Georgia Bulldog face reached out tentatively to touch the metal which just moments before had been glowing literally orange red hot, but was now cool, physically and metaphorically speaking.

It was a fun day and great way to introduce the community to a wonderful program helping wounded warriors get back on their feet by getting into the saddle and gaining confidence as they guided their horses through their paces and gaining the trust of the horses as they gained trust in their own abilities.

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