SpiritHorse planning Nov. 14 walkathon for autism awareness

A child and horse interact at SpiritHorse Liberty Therapeutic Riding Center.

Unless you are a parent, family member or caregiver of someone with special needs, you may not be familiar with SpiritHorse Liberty.  Incorporated in 2010, SpiritHorse Liberty provides horse riding lessons that are research-based, private, equine-assisted, and highly effective for those with special needs like cerebral palsy, autism, down syndrome or even the physically handicapped. 

SpiritHorse offers these services free of charge for special needs children/adults including veterans, foster children, and more.  Riders without special needs may ride for only a $30 donation.

“We have seen children talk, sit and walk for the first time.  Better core and muscle strength, focus, balance, self-respect, social ability, and cognitive processing have come from this program. Each lesson includes horse management as part of the curriculum, incorporating responsibility and ownership.  Each student, to his own ability, may lead, groom and saddle his pony or horse before lessons.  While riding, the student’s individual needs such as speech, sensory, balance/other physical, behavioral and cognitive processing are all being addressed through equine therapy by our certified instructors and volunteers,” said Craig Girard, board president of SpiritHorse Liberty.

SpiritHorse makes all this possible by pursuing grants for donations from businesses and through the support from the community and fundraising events.  These donations make it possible for special needs children and adults to receive this needed therapy free of charge.

On Nov. 14, SpiritHorse will host the SpiritHorse Liberty Walkathon 2021 to raise awareness around autism inclusion and employment. A rain date of Dec. 4 has been set up should heavy rains prompt the cancelation of the Nov. 14 event.  You can help SpiritHorse thrive by being a Walkathon participant or sponsor and encouraging others to do the same. 

As a participant, you will walk and seek sponsors of your miles walked, with all funds paid to SpiritHorse Liberty to benefit the young riders. The walkathon will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 112 and 115 Linden Lane in Liberty near the Trinity Valley Exposition Center off of FM 563. You can even walk or jog at a safe location of your choosing for this event.

As a sponsor, you will sponsor the miles walked of one of the event co-leaders or any other participants with a maximum of 5 miles walked.  At this event, there will also be a silent auction, therapy horses, certified equine therapy trainers to talk to, refreshments and more. All are welcome to stop by and there’s plenty of street parking.

To register, send an email to the event co-leaders – Liberty High School students Matthew Girard (matthewgirard06@icloud.com) or Lily Kearly-McNutt (lamm321@icloud.com). For more questions or registration issues, call Stephen Kearly at 936-641-3126 or Girard at 661-542-1441.

“A core piece of this event is to encourage discussion and education opportunities about special needs individuals.  In any business, leaders and staff should always be open to learning more about the circumstances and special needs of people with developmental and other disabilities.  This better understanding will result in more accommodations and improved experiences for these less fortunate families – whether it’s dining, recreation, employment or other purpose served by the business,” said Girard. 

For more information on SpiritHorse, go online to spirithorseliberty.org or contact SpiritHorse Executive Director Donna Wiebelhaus at 936-641-0165 or spirithorseliberty@yahoo.com.

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