Exceptional Riders: Horse Therapy for Children with Special Needs

Horses are historically known to be used as forms of transportation, to win races and to serve as companions. However, many don’t know that horses are also used for therapy. Exceptional Riders in Harbor Springs, is giving children with special needs a fun therapy experience, free of charge.

Grace Linehan looks forward to Thursday night every week because it makes her extremely happy. She has Septo-optic dysplasia, a disorder that makes it difficult for the two hemispheres of the brain to communicate.

Her father Conrad Linehan says it shows. With time we also found that there was a lot of emotional and psychological benefits as well.”

Every Thursday night in both the Spring and Fall, the Exceptional Riders program takes place at the Rising Hope Equestrian Center. President of the non-profit, Barabara Lane explains, “We ride in an indoor arena-we have 5 or 6 students per class and we have two classes per evening.”

The students are excited because they don’t view it as strictly therapy. They are excited to be surrounded by friends and horses.

“Their world is broadened. Whether it’s emotionally-physically and the other thing is ‘I can do that’. Or ‘I rode that big horse and if I can do that I can do this,'” shares Barbara Lane.

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