Therapy Horse of the Week: Chief

“Our son Gavin rides at a facility called Hands Hooves & Hope Ranch in Manhattan, Illinois. HHH ranch allows our son, who has a genetic chromosome abnormality called Dup 15q syndrome (along with other diagnoses of ASD, anxiety, OCD, and epilepsy) to have a fun, year-round hobby. We continue to ride and remain active through the winter when many of his outdoor recreational activities shut down until the weather is better.

Gavin started riding when he was around 5 years old. We initially did it because we felt therapeutic riding could help with his hypotonia and attention deficit disorder. Those benefits were successful but we soon realized it was so much more.

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My son rides Chief. The friendship my son has with this animal is amazing. The mutual respect they have for one another is undeniable. Chief is a horse that should be recognized for his bravery, patience, and his ability to connect with the riders on a level than can’t be explained.

Chief has provided our son with a new level of independence and, behind that, a feeling of ownership—something special of his own. Gavin has his own routine with Chief. He greets, brushes, walks, steers, rides, and thanks Chief for being his friend.

The facility itself is amazing that truly is all-inclusive and lives up to its own mission and goal. Being able to ride all year long allows Gavin to keep a routine, which helps him stay focused and engaged in activities. Being a part of such an inspirational and productive facility is a humbling experience that reminds my family that there are amazing organizations out there for this community.” —Tessa Q.

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