Local non-profit empowers children with disabilities through therapy horses

NOW: Local non-profit empowers children with disabilities through therapy horses

BUCHANAN, Mich. --- The Therapeutic Equestrian Center (TEC) in Buchanan helps teach kids with disabilities to maneuver their everyday life through therapy riding programs.

Nine-year-old Tia Matheny has been riding horses at TEC for four years.

Since birth, she’s struggled with self confidence and trust — something her current horse Lexy is helping her develop.

“She had a pretty rough beginning, and she does really well after she rides horse. She follows directions better. She’s listening intently better and after she rides, she’s just happy. Lexy and her have a really good bond," said Carol Matheny, Tia's mom.

The center holds classes several times a week using instructors like Autumn Zick to help students improve their verbal and learning skills.

Current students have struggles ranging from anxiety to cerebral palsy, but no matter what everyone is welcome.

“The wonderful thing at TEC is we come from all different walks of life. All different ages and it’s a great melting pot for people to work together to help and support one another," said Zick, Instructor and Board President.

Classes are open to both children and adults — focusing on “I did it” moments.

That means they’re able to achieve a goal set at the beginning of their lesson.

“Before anybody gets on a horse, we have them fill out a packet and part of that packet tell us about their disability. Tells us about what they think they would like to get out of the lesson and then the instructor reviews all that information and puts together a plan," said Donna Canter, board member.

Making sure every student gets their own dedicated attention — class sizes are capped at four people. The best part, no one is ever turned away!

Scholarships are available to make sure everyone gets the help they deserve.

“We can build a lot of skills while they’re having fun on a horse, and they don’t how hard it is and how much they’re working," said Zick.

There are also special classes tailored toward veterans. If you’re interested in signing up click this link here.

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