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The equine club at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College (NEO), has spent the entire school year volunteering regularly at Horses of Hope, which is a therapeutic riding facility in Baxter Springs, Kan. 

The partnership started in the 2012-2013 school year, but with the help of student coordinator Sydney Reynolds, the club established countless volunteer hours on a weekly basis at Horses of Hope. Volunteers were given the opportunity to assist in the therapeutic riding process through horse handling, side walking, and riding horses for warm up. 
According to the organization’s website, Adults and children with disabilities who are able to participate in therapeutic riding find improved balance, posture, mobility and function. Riders improve spiritually and emotionally as well. 

The horse takes its riders through a complex series of movements that utilizes all of the body's muscles. The result is beneficial to mind, spirit and body. 

At Horses of Hope, the horse is utilized as a therapy resource because of his unique gait and the animal’s willingness to carry and connect with people. The horse's walk provides sensory input through movement, which is variable, rhythmic and repetitive.  The resultant movement responses in the client are similar to human movement patterns of the pelvis while walking.

“It has been a life-changing experience for students to get to help at Horses of Hope. To truly give means to help someone else, and they have learned that through volunteering their time and effort,” said Chelsie Huseman, equine club sponsor. 

The club is open to all students who have an interest in horses. The club spends its time attending educational equine events, volunteering with horse facilities like Horses of Hope, and hosts an annual horse show in the spring. 

“The club is a great opportunity for equine-minded people to get together and enjoy horses and the industry,” said Chelsea Landes, equine club president. 

The club plans to continue working with Horses of Hope. The relationship developed with the local facility is likely to continue to grow and will hopefully lead to greater endeavors between the two.


Photo caption: Sydney Reynolds (on left) and Mackenzie Baxter (far right) assisting a rider in one of the many techniques used to improve balance and strengthen muscles.

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