Horses are making all the difference for people of all ages in the metro thanks to the Heartland Equine Therapeutic Academy (HETRA).
For Peggy Evert and her grandson Chase, therapy sessions at HETRA each week means quality time together.
“He can hardly wait to run in and put his helmet on and get out there,” says Evert.
The three-year-old has struggled with low muscle tone since birth. When he first started riding, the toddler wasn't able to walk without help.
“He’s just had to struggle sometimes to get his muscles to respond the way they should.”
But the past year, chase has been working with instructors performing interactive tasks that help strengthen his core.
“My husband and I used to pray someday that Chase would run someday and now we pray we can keep up with him because he's off and running.”
The academy works with 115 students every week and relies on community donations to keep facilities running, but the drought this summer has made food for the horses more expensive.
Jen Wolsleben is an instructor. She says people thrive from working with horses because it doesn't feel like therapy.
“Being able to see a student who is so scared. but she’s enjoying it so much is great to see and makes me want to work harder HETRA survives in a hard economy,” says Wolsleben.
While it costs HETRA $100 for every ride, they charge those who need therapy a third of the cost.
The non-profit has their biggest fundraiser coming up this spring on April 20th. It’s the 13th annual Blue Jeans and Dreams event. The goal is to raise $60,000 which will provide 1,200 lessons for students.
To learn more about HETRA and how you can help, click on their website at the bottom of this story.