Therapy riding changing lives at Fieldstone Farm
There's a really cool place at the intersection of Washington Street and Snyder Road in Chagrin Falls where magic happens.
The good stuff kind.
Where horses and volunteers are changing special lives.
You feel it when you spend some time at Fieldstone Farm Therapeutic Riding Center. They've been Seeing the Possible and making it happen there for almost 40 years.
20-year-old Jared Jackson is proof.
Thursdays are his favorite. He smiles when he says it’s because that’s “Horse Riding” day.
When Jared and his beautiful white horse Sally partner up and become a team at Fieldstone Farm, transformative things happen.
"He feels real comfortable when he gets on that horse," says Jared’s dad, Mike Jackson.
“When he first started he wasn't that way, that's for sure. So it's definitely a confidence builder."
Cerebral Palsy is no longer front and center when Jared's on top of the world saddled up on Sally.
"The horse’s movement works the body as if a person is walking themselves. It gives the physical input to their body as if they are walking themselves," explains Fieldstone Farm’s Chief Development Officer, Maureen Foster.
Mike Jackson agrees because he’s seen it first hand in Jared.
"He's been able to sit up better. His balance is a lot better," says Jackson.
"Having to use their legs, their seat, their voice, all these different aids putting them together gives them confidence when they see they can get there," says volunteer Carey Smith-Wilson.
"We've had students riding with us whose diagnosis might be that they will never walk. They use wheelchairs or crutches and they have taken their first steps. It's pretty incredible," Foster smiles.
It all started almost 40 years ago when a local businessman saw the value of therapy riding when it was still new and started with eight students.
"We have been able to expand to 1,300 students each year. It can be many types of disabilities. It can be emotional. It can be at risk, cognitive, physical. The need for therapeutic riding has expanded so dramatically over the years. I think many years ago people thought of us as a place for wheelchairs, physical disability only, and we have expanded exponentially now,” says Smith-Wilson.
It takes about 250 volunteers every week and 36 horses donated to the program specially trained for therapy.
It’s a beautiful big place where the writing is on the wall in hand drawn thank-yous from little hands written to the horses they love.
It’s classic good stuff.
It’s proof of what's not lost on grateful parents.
"He gets a total joy out of it. He loves riding," Jackson says of his son.
"This is a place they can be. They can just be themselves. They can be in the moment," says Foster.
Jared is a man of few words, but of this much we're sure…
When we asked him if he was happy his face lit up, unmistakable wide smile when he says “Yeah”.
"We see the incredible abilities our students have,” says Foster.
At Channel 3, we call that See the possible, because, like Foster says, “They find a great acceptance here."
Fieldstone Farm’s annual fundraiser, Chefs Unbridled, is on September 16th. Cleveland‘s top chefs will be serving up a seasonal tasting dinner. Tickets are still available.