I first found out about Equi-Star when I picked up a flyer at the VA Hospital about the Veterans One Stop outing there. I actually didn’t know anything about the program except there were horses.
Once there, our group was given the opportunity to groom horses as well as walk with them in the arena. When the executive director Peggy Shiesley explained what their program was about I was quite moved.
I was invited to groom one of the horses, Dakota. When I put my hand on his back I felt everything in my life go away. It was just me and him. It was a peace I haven’t experienced before. Once in the arena, walking the horses, I felt like I was home. I didn’t know what I could do with my physical restraints but it didn’t matter. I wanted to come back as soon as possible as a volunteer; that turned out to be the next morning. I was given a tour. The more the barn manager talked about what they did there, the more excited I became.
It’s been 2 months now and has been an amazing journey. The staff worked with me to teach me as much as I wanted to learn but always showing gratitude for what I could do rather than what I couldn’t.
It was a rocky beginning but today I am grooming horses, helping with feeding and cleaning, and even starting to be a horse handler in class!
I have had a very difficult life. As I’ve gotten older, it’s been more and more difficult to find meaning in life. I’m disabled and have yet to find a volunteer job that worked with all my challenges. This has been the first. Equi-Star has expressed gratitude many times for my being there but honestly, it is I who has the gratitude. They’ve given me something I lost long ago – a passion for life, a reason to continue.
Thank you to Equi-Star, all the staff and, of course, all the beautiful horses, especially my sweetie – Snowflake.
I just want to thank you for opening up your Therapy Horse Ranch to the Veterans of Western NY and their families. I look forward to our visits with you, the horses, and my fellow Veterans so much. I have learned so much about horses that I never knew before. I also love the one on one contact we get with the horses. It is not only fun but relaxing to brush down the horses. The horses seem to enjoy it as much as we do. I also enjoy walking the horses around the arena. It is a great way to get to know the horse you have and also learn that you are in control of beautiful strong animal. I love hearing the stories that you share with us about how you got each horse and how hard they each work with the rider on their backs. I think the horses know what a blessing they are to your clients. Thank you for all that you and your horses do for us and the people you help everyday. You are all truly a blessing from God. I hope that we have horses in heaven.”
It amazed me as a therapist to see this child who could not even sit up by himself, he was harnessed back in his wheelchair, be able to sit up unsupported after his third time on the horse….of course we were hanging on to him, but, he was doing the work himself… The horse didn’t even really move – the child just sat on it 1 time per week….it’s just amazing!”
David and Tammy Seitzer
“Equi-Star has done so many wonderful things for our son Andrew. Our son started riding at Equi-Star approx. 3 years ago. At that time he struggled with balance to be able to ride a bike; since that point he is now able to ride a regular 10 speed bicycle. Andrew has also been able to enjoy riding the horses and has learned how to groom them and learn simple commands. Equi-Star has provided a very caring environment for him and he feels very comfortable both on the horse and with staff and volunteers there. Equi-Star is a wonderful program and we are so thankful to be a part of such a wonderful organization. Sincerely, David and Tammy Seitzer”
“My two boys have been enjoying riding at Equi Star for several years. They have very different needs and the staff and volunteers do a great job adapting the activities to fit their individual needs. We really enjoy the time we spend here and look forward to many more years of riding.”
Our two children have received many benefits. Stacey, our daughter, was with the program for five years, and Shaun my stepson has been with the program for three years. Children with special problems need a program like this in Western New York. Thanks again.