Erica, former participant
I was diagnosed with epilepsy at 10 months old and have been on anti-seizure medications my whole life. I also struggle with learning disabilities, a processing delay, delayed reaction time, sensory dysfunction and low muscle tone. I was never good at any sport, due to physical limitations, poor stamina, and coordination.
I was introduced to Pegasus Therapeutic Riding at age 7 by my physical therapist at the time. Little did I know that my first ride would start a lifelong passion: horseback riding. My outlook on life changed and my balance, gait, spatial awareness, motor planning, and processing all improved drastically. Riding gave me wings and a sense of accomplishment. Finally, I found a sport that I was able to excel at. While in the saddle, I felt like everyone else at school and for once felt “normal.”
Pegasus gave me the therapy I needed in a fun way, new-found confidence and freedom in the saddle, and kick-started a passion for horses and riding that has emotionally saved my life. That is a precious gift I will always be thankful for. I am now an independent Hunter/Jumper who rides three days a week, and I compete in the two shows that our barn has every year.
I am deeply grateful to Pegasus for being there at just the right moment in my life, and I truly credit my obsession with horseback riding to your program. I am always singing the praises of therapeutic riding, especially of Pegasus!
Jennifer, parent of current participant
Our son has come a long way with riding and we are very proud of all his accomplishments and how well he is working toward long-term independence. Riding has given him a reason to shine. He often writes and talks about riding at school and with his peers. We are very happy to be given the opportunity to have him in this program.
Mauri, parent of current participant
My daughter Talbot had been a horse-lover and a rider through much of her childhood and into her early teen years. An animal-lover naturally, there was always something very special to witness when she rode a horse. She seemed at peace, content and truly happy.
Talbot suffered a severe traumatic brain injury while in college in 2011. She was 20 years old and a sophomore at Santa Clara University in California when she was hit by a car while crossing the street at the entrance to her campus. She was thrown more than 30 feet and sustained severe head trauma affecting both sides of her brain.
Over the past 4 years, Talbot has suffered significant medical complications. During the early course of her rehab, she had to relearn how to breathe, cough, swallow, chew, drink, sit, stand, walk and talk. Talbot’s persistent work ethic and stick-to-itiveness catapulted her forward. Her leaning-in mentality has been consistent—a “bring it,” no-nonsense, “let’s do this!” attitude has been her constant companion and her saving grace.
Talbot began riding at Pegasus in the summer of 2012. Seeing her mount her horse, it was if her memories and muscles kicked into autopilot. Originally accompanied by three trained volunteers, she was painstakingly slow, off-balance, and asymmetrical in her posture and strength. She has progressed quite a bit since those days. Gone are the three vigilant volunteers. Talbot is now a completely independent rider, and this May, she won the Ann Pinkerton Award for Adult Rider of the Year at the 34th Annual Pegasus Horse Show!
Beyond equine-assisted activities and therapies, Pegasus provides an outlet for Talbot to feel successful, confident and like a winner! Pegasus has enabled what they refer to in brain injury rehabilitation lexicon as a reconstituted sense of self. Riding at Pegasus brings the old Talbot back to us.
We are blessed by not only the quality of instruction and heartfelt support Talbot receives at Pegasus but also the generosity of so many who enable her to pursue this passion. On behalf of Talbot and myself, we thank you for making this happiness possible.
In Talbot’s own words, “It’s great to ride at Pegasus, especially because Liz is such an amazing coach. She finds new and fun ways to challenge me all the time. She’s also a really kind woman! I also love Josée. She’s a wonderful horse to ride.”
Talbot and I also want to thank all the Pegasus donors who help make her weekly lessons possible. More than 90% of Pegasus’ annual budget is funded through charitable contributions, and participants like Talbot would not have the opportunity to attend the program without the community’s generosity.
Martha, parent of former participant
Ben really enjoyed his afternoons at Pegasus. He was so proud of himself and loved meeting all of the volunteers and working with the horses. He has expressed an interest in working with animals when he grows up and this experience reinforced that desire.
Karen, parent of current participant
James and I are so grateful for everything that Pegasus has done for Grace.
My daughter has hypotonia, a disorder that affects motor nerve control by the brain, muscle strength, speech, social and sensory issues.
Since my daughter was starting kindergarten, she was no longer receiving summer services. Both my husband and I saw how much my daughter regressed when she did not get her therapy, so we decided to put her in the Pegasus program.
There are not enough words of Thank You to Pegasus when your child, who struggles every day with walking, especially on stairs, is doing a half-seat while trotting, giggling up a storm with pride.
My daughter who was shy and quiet became social when she saw her friends in her class. The staff and volunteers let each child learn at their own pace and go out of their way to answer any questions you have and keep you up to date on their progress as they ride.
The teachers and volunteers go out of their way to make riding possible for these special kids, who will have a chance to have fun, make friends and grow.
Omar, parent of current participant
Our daughter talks about the horses and the experience all the time. She asks if it is riding day and looks forward to it. In school, her therapists use it in examples, drawings, and photos and get her to communicate more because of Petey and Jack, and riding and trotting, and "walk on," etc.
Sue, former participant
When I started to ride at Pegasus, I was barely driving my car anymore because I couldn’t hold a focus with my eyes when the car was in motion. I was struggling with balance and weakness issues related to MS, and my activity was limited. It was depressing to feel my active life slipping away.
After several months of riding, I was back to driving more often, walking more, and overall just feeling so much better, physically and emotionally. After a year of riding, I was doing so well that I participated in an MS Challenge walk (30 miles in two days!).
My confidence has increased as I have learned how to connect and communicate with horses. Riding makes me feel free, and my time at Pegasus was often the highlight of my week. Thank you for all that you do each day to give participants the opportunity to experience the joy that I have found at Pegasus.
Darryl, parent of current participant
He is doing so good riding that it's impressive. We've noticed that it also has helped him with walking tall and straight. He used to sit on the horse, years ago, like "mashed potato." Now he does it with elegance and is extremely happy on a horse. Riding at Pegasus has made an enormous difference in our child's life indeed.
Laurie, parent of former participant
My 20-year-old son, Luke, has multiple developmental delays. Inherent in the special needs journey is isolation, and consequently, loneliness. Pegasus, however, is the great equalizer, for when on the horse, the rider is no longer defined by his/her diagnosis, and those moments are glorious; a glimpse in to normal.
Luke’s progress can be measured in several areas: physical, emotional, and life skills. Riding has given Luke such a sense of accomplishment; something that is his alone. He is stronger in every way and can realistically imagine a future working with horses.
The benefits are indescribable, from his ability to work the reins and post, to his deep and close connection with the horses, to his loving friendships with the instructors and volunteers.
Riding is an activity that is first and foremost fun while providing him with tremendous therapeutic services. This experience has opened up a whole new wonderful world for Luke that puts a smile on his face and most importantly, in his heart.