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Faith Equestrian Therapeutic Center Horses for Heroes Program

Updated on February 7, 2015

Heroes on Horseback provides therapeutic riding for wounded warriors

Barely thirty minutes from the city of Savannah lies a stable that gives hope to heroes on horseback

"You can't get here using your GPS", says one woman to the next as they wander around the grounds of Faith Equestrian Center on Appaloosa Way.

The roads leading into the barn are well worn, with some having no center line, pot holes and chunks of pavement missing, making it a rough ride in.

"Thank goodness for all the signs leading us here," said another woman as they joked about ending up in the swamps when their GPS system failed to guide them to their destination.

In part what they said was prophetic. In our modern world, we think we have all the answers to guide people in the path they should go, but sometimes it takes good old fashioned horse sense to find a solution to a problem that plagues many.


Bonnie Rachel introduces Mike Horton Senior and Junior as they perform to patriotic music
Bonnie Rachel introduces Mike Horton Senior and Junior as they perform to patriotic music
Heroes on horseback
Heroes on horseback

Owner and CEO, Bonnie Rachel had a dream and set out to make it a reality. Many are glad she did.

Bonnie Rachel decided a few years back that she wanted to open a stable that would would allow disabled individuals, those with mental impairments and those diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or recuperating from injuring or loss of limb function to regain confidence and hope through an equine therapy program.

Research had shown that when people work with animals, especially riding horses, that they build confidence, coordination and empathy that they may not gain by any other means.

There is something special about being around horses and even more special to guide a horse around an arena with leg, voice or hand cues, trusting that the big beasts will listen and keep you safe and form a willing partnership with you where you each share a close bond beyond what you could share with humans.

The horses at Faith Equestrian are well cared for and the grounds are immaculate.

There are chickens and cats at the barn as well and at today's open house, there is a farrier pounding a piece of orange hot metal into the face of a Georgia Bulldog as over a dozen people watch.

Despite cloudy weather and the threat of rain, a number of guests are enjoying the facilities and bidding on silent auction items from a bath set to a horse themed cutting board and jewelry.

Everyone is smiling and admiring the riding trail which goes through a bird feeding station and other sensory stimulation areas that allow riders to maneuver through obstacles, toss balls into unique shaped holes with star, bird and fish designs, as well as a curtain of foam rubber rollers that bump into horse and rider as they pass through.

It takes skill and commitment to pass through the area and looks a little fun too.

The group is hoping to raise funds to build an outdoor riding arena, put in a sidewalk and a training pavilion and expand the program to include more riders.

They are accepting donations of time, materials or money and can use everything from toilet paper and office supplies, to hay, feed and horse supplies like fly spray, brushes and grooming supplies.

They will take donations of good working computers to use for summer camp programs as well, so if you want to find a good project for your civic group to support, check them out at:
http://faithetc.org/heroes.html

If you lie nearby you can even volunteer your time to work with the horses and riders or possibly look into working on one of the new projects they hope to complete to make the place more efficient and user friendly.

Their hours are:

Monday-Wednesday-Friday by appointment only-
please call 912-655-1480 or 912-728-3728
Tuesday- Thursday private therapy sessions (closed to public)
Appointments for therapy are only made through our therapist Katie McGrory
Saturdays - Therapeutic riding sessions (seasonal Fall/Winter and Spring/Summer)

Student sign ups and forms, as well as volunteer forms, can be downloaded on line and mailed in and you will be contacted upon receipt.

More photos of the open house at Faith Equestrian

Farrier Gerald Douberly bends metal on what looks like a BBQ grill
Farrier Gerald Douberly bends metal on what looks like a BBQ grill
Firing up the forge
Firing up the forge
Checking out the metal artwork
Checking out the metal artwork
A Special Olympic's rider checks out the farrier display
A Special Olympic's rider checks out the farrier display
Mike Horton
Mike Horton
Georgia Bulldog by Gerald Douberly
Georgia Bulldog by Gerald Douberly
Visitors tour the grounds
Visitors tour the grounds

This is how you get a disabled adult up on a horse

Whether you have legs or not, where there is a will, there is a way

One of the questions people ask most is, "how do you get a disabled rider up on a horse?"

This contraption is one way of doing it. It lifts the rider off the ground and raises and rotates them, so that they can slide into the saddle with a little help from volunteers.

One volunteer may lead the horse, while two others stand on either side of the rider, helping to keep them centered in the saddle.

The horses are well trained and usually larger stock or draft horses are used for heavy weight adults so the horse is not so overwhelmed and the rider feels more secure.

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