Katie McGowan the Founder of HorseAbility is a visionary of the best kind. In 1993 she started with one horse and one rider and personally experienced watching the magic that occurred when a special needs child interacted and rode a horse for the first time. She knew at that very moment that horses could help those children and adults that wake up every morning and face physical, occupational, speech or emotional challenges. She never looked back and twenty years later HorseAbility has grown. The program works with over 200 families every week, with a team of 150 trained volunteers and 15 therapeutic horses that are carefully handpicked and screened to ensure maximum safety for both riders and volunteers.
Life is good at HorseAbility for the horses, most of the horses come from donations, rescues and some are older horses that are ready for a new relaxed pace. The families come to love the horses and the horses sense the strong bond. Every day there is lots of hustle and bustle around the stables, and the day that I stopped by was typical and busy, a group of military veterans and their families were coming to ride horses to help them work through issues such as boosting their self-esteem, trust, conflict resolution, anxiety, depression and post traumatic stress challenges, a new horse just arrived through a rescue group, plus several of the volunteer riders were planning details for the Special Olympics Equestrian program which HorseAbility hosts every September.
If you would like to experience or see the healing power of horses first hand come to the stables at SUNY Old Westbury, it might become your ” home away from home” too.