Beginning in January 2020, several of the students who are enrolled at Spring Creek Charter Academy (SCCA) and receive special education services in grades Pre-K through 6th, participated in the therapeutic horse riding program at Hands and Hearts for Horses in Thomasville, GA. “Hands and Hearts for Horses provides unique therapeutic services to individuals with a variety of special needs.” Therapeutic horse riding has been proven to improve emotional awareness, social skills, impulse control, confidence, trust and empathy, and problem solving skills. All of these skills are important in helping our students become active and engaged citizens in our community. These skills also allow our students to take ownership of his/her learning opportunities and build relationships which are necessary skills for life. Hands and Hearts for Horses was founded by Terrell Singletary and Karen Leabo Singletary in 2000. The instructors who teach these lessons are certified by the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International, or PATH Int’l. “Therapeutic riding is documented to improve balance and coordination, strengthening and stretching muscles, improved reflexes and movement, increased range of motion, sensory integration, focus, development of patience, sequencing patterning and motor planning, improved hand eye coordination & spatial perception, increased respect and love for animals, responsibility, among others.” Currently, they have 16 horses that are used for therapeutic riding lessons.
At this time, Hands and Hearts for Horses serves individuals with disabilities through private lessons as well as several school groups from various counties. Since adding Spring Creek Charter Academy, they now serve school groups from the following counties: Thomas, Mitchell, Colquitt, Decatur, Miller, and Seminole. When SCCA began riding at Hands and Hearts for Horses, most of our students had little to no experiences with horses. The staff at Hands and Hearts was wonderful and willing to help in any way possible. They eased our students’ worries and jitters as first time riders. Before we left, several students even asked if they could ride again! Since the first riding session, our students ask many times per month when we will go to Hands and Hearts again. We take the students once a month to participate in therapeutic horse riding. The students know the horses by name and we’ve seen an increase in their confidence both in the classroom and on the horses. During riding sessions, the students are working on listening skills, following single and multi-step directions, and impulse control through stretching and balance activities as well as games. Our students say it best. Molly F, a 4th grader at SCCA, says “The best part of riding horses was playing games. I love riding horses because it made me feel happy.” Isaac P, a 6th grader at SCCA, says “After riding my horse, I feel happy and calm. I have learned that horses have feelings and can read your emotions; therefore, I try to be more aware of my emotions to help us both stay calm.”
We could not ask for a better program for our students. We want to thank the following local companies for helping to sponsor our students: Vivie Kat Boutique (www.viviekatboutique.com) , Dollar Heating and Air, The Mane Tamer Salon, and Alapaha Transport Inc. If it was not for these local donations, our students would have never had this opportunity. We also want to thank one of our parents, Kim Slaughter, for her tireless effort in helping to find sponsors to help support our students! We are excited to get back to school and start riding again!
Kameryn T, 2nd grade
Allie T, Pre-K
Kilyn S, 2nd grade
Phoenix D, Kindergarten
Gregory S, 1st grade
Isaac P, 6th grade
Molly F, 4th grade
Allie T, Pre-K
Teacher: Melissa Poitevient, M.Ed (Special Education Teacher at SCCA)