Living Hope Equine Therapy's mission is to use equine assisted services to provide hope and healing to Veterans, children, and adults with cognitive, physical, and emotional challenges through the remarkable connection with horses. I have watched this mission come to life over the past three years as Tammi Wilson, our founder has ministered to my daughter and changed every area of her life. Maddy's story is just one of many showing the life changing impact of equine assisted therapy.
Maddy was born with a genetic condition that impacts her body’s ability to convert food and oxygen into energy correctly. This disease causes a long list of horrible medical issues and can be life threatening. Maddy has spent much of her life in and out of hospitals, medical appointments and more therapy than most could imagine. By the time Maddy was five she was suffering from significant anxiety and begging me not to go to therapy. I knew that I needed to find a different solution. Maddy had also expressed a deep love for Horses and desperately wanted to horseback ride. We started our venture into the horse world through Hippotherapy, but while that was addressing her physical strength and endurance it was not even beginning to address her anxiety and emotional health.
In October of 2020, Tammi Wilson entered our lives and changed everything. From day one, Tammi took the time to get to know Maddy. To learn about her strengths and her weaknesses, to learn about her hopes and dreams, to encourage her and mentor her. One of Tammi’s greatest gifts is the time and love she takes to get to know her riders and how best to serve them. Tammi knows on any given day whether her rider needs to be loved and encouraged or pushed past their fears. She treats riders with love, respect and kindness and builds a relationship that is grounded in trust. She never loses sight of the fact that while horses are the tool we use, the lessons learned are about so much more than riding horses.
Therapeutic Riding addresses so many challenges: anxiety, anger, strength, communication, social skills and so much more. It teaches hard work, setting goals, problem solving, teamwork, forming relationships, learning to overcome disappointment, speaking up and self-advocacy, to face fears, and to build confidence. Therapeutic Riding has taught Maddy that she can accomplish hard things and that dreams do come true. Tammi looks at her riders and sees only ability, never disability. In a world where we are often told of what we cannot do Tammi focuses on everything her riders can accomplish and how amazing they are. Living Hope is a place of love, acceptance and understanding.
In three short years, I have watched Maddy grow and thrive due to her relationship with Tammi and the amazing horse partners we use. I have watched my painfully shy girl learn to find her voice. I have watched her begin to believe in herself. I have watched her learn the value of hard work and dreams. I have seen her newfound skills affect her day-to-day life as she learns that she can trust the people and the world around her. My greatest wish is that our program could touch more lives and that others would be able to see their loved ones benefit from the healing power of horses and a program that seeks to teach them how amazing they are. Please partner with us to change more lives.
By Alison Beckwith, Community Outreach Manager and mother to one of our riders, Maddy