Making a Difference ...
Bao’s mom writes:
Bao was born with a debilitating disease called tuberous sclerosis. He had hundreds of seizures a day and was on seven different medications at one time to no avail. He never crawled. He didn’t walk until he was two, didn’t run until he was four, and couldn’t jump until he was eight. His quality of life was non-existent until he had his fourth and final brain surgery. The last surgery left him temporarily paralyzed on his left side for almost a year, but it also gave him a new lease on life. Bao started at Tara’s Chance from the very beginning. He absolutely loves riding every week. He was very weak when he first started, but now he is so much stronger and his stamina is quite impressive. Cindy is a miracle worker. She is firm yet kind. Tim is there to entertain and spoil the kids. Tara’s Chance embodies dedication and professionalism. We are all one big happy family. The smiles on the children’s faces say it all!
Gabriel’s Dad writes:
Gabriel has been attending Tara’s Chance for two years, and we’ve found the experience to be phenomenal. Tara’s Chance is a place that one can easily find inspiration. A place where riders are seen as able, and not judged for their differences.
For the last two years, our son Gabe, a rambunctious and stubborn 11 year old, with Down Syndrome who is nonverbal, has had the opportunity to be a part of the magic that is Tara’s Chance. In that time, we have seen Gabe grow from a scared and timid rider into a confident preteen. He is able to perform on the horse in ways we could have never imagined, gaining in enthusiasm and bravery with each new achievement —and there are always new achievements.
Through this process, his confidence has grown from beyond the confines of the stables, to his everyday life. He is more confident, braver, and vocal than ever. Additionally, we have seen gains in his overall coordination, core strength, and ability to navigate his environment in a meaningful way. (And he’s of course still healthily rambunctious and stubborn when he feels he needs to be).
If you ask Gabe what has favorite day of the week is, he will —undoubtedly— sign “horse”. The best day of Gabe’s week, is the day he gets to ride. This is in no small part to the kind and caring staff at Tara’s Chance, their patience, and their willingness to embrace an ethos of inclusivity, empathy, and limitless opportunities for our families.
- Anthony A.
Boyds Dad Writes:
Boyd was diagnosed with Autism and Apraxia. On Boyd’s first ride with Maggie, he was fearless and jumped right up and without a second thought. Although unafraid, he did struggle with his balance, coordination and following instructions. Now, 7 years later Boyd is rides like a pro. His core balance has improved so much he can now sit on his knees and ride with confidence. His coordination and smooth transitioning from facing forward to backward are almost flawless and his ability to follow the important instructions given has enhanced his time at Tara’s Chance. Boyd loves riding Maggie and going fast! It is such a wonderful feeling to watch him learn and progress in these therapeutic areas, all with a huge smile on his face and heart full of joy.
Priscilla’s Dad Josh writes:
Priscilla Hayley Schroth entered our lives on June 9, 2004, and ultimately completed our family when she joined her big brother that day. We had absolutely no way of knowing that day all of the love, fear, confusion, and pure joy she would bring us these past 15 years.
It wasn’t too long after, that we began to see the differences in Priscilla. She wasn’t meeting milestones, had feeding issues and difficulty in gaining weight. The quest for a diagnosis began! Our world became quickly inundated with doctors’ appointments, therapies, and testing just to find answers. We’ve had therapists that have become like family and we can practically drive to CHOC in our sleep! She even earned her very own trip to the national institute of health in Maryland to the undiagnosed diseases program a few years ago! And yet, at the age of 15, she still remains our sweet, silly, sassy, Scilla...the girl without a diagnosis.
When a fellow special needs mom told me about Tara’s Chance, it sounded like something Priscilla just might enjoy...once she gave it a try. And I loved that Priscilla would have a chance to get her spastic leg muscles really stretched once a week, something that is so important for her since she loves cruising around in her walker.
Priscilla had a rough start at Tara’s Chance. She would cry, display some self-injurious behavior, and loudly protest. I thought maybe I was wrong and that she didn’t belong here, but Cindy gave us a gift when she gave Priscilla a chance. She accommodated Priscilla’s weekly ride time to shorter intervals that she could handle, and quickly learned her love of music by singing to her, and her thrill of playing catch by having another volunteer come out to throw a ball with her while she’s riding around.
Now Priscilla loves her weekly riding sessions and rides for the full half hour with her new friend Riley the horse. She is getting necessary stretches each week which is more evident with her posture and confidence. She is able to now signal “go” for her horse to begin riding. But more than that, Priscilla has something that is hers, and that can’t be taken away from her. While some kids her age play sports, or play in a band, Priscilla has been given the amazing gift of horseback riding!
Isabella’s mom writes:
Isabella is 9 years old and has been riding with Tara’s Chance for over 5 years. She has Spinal Muscular Atrophy, which means she can’t build new muscles. SMA causes complications with her energy, eating, breathing and bone health. When she started riding at Tara’s Chance, she only had enough strength to ride for 30 seconds. She also needed full support from her side walkers and a special saddle to help her stay sitting up on the horse. Through the patience and determination of Cindy and her team she is now riding for a full 30-minute session completely unsupported! Since SMA is a progressive disease medically she shouldn’t get stronger but riding on the horse is a gentle, efficient and fun way to help her strengthen her little muscles and has helped her defy doctor’s predictions. When I see how healthy she is and how strong she has gotten I know it is largely due to horse therapy. If we hadn't started this therapy, I know she would not be as strong or healthy as she is today. I am so grateful for Tara’s Chance. It is rare to find people who care about your child’s progress as much as you do. That’s what I have found here at Tara’s Chance.
- Jaclyn D.
Tianyu’s mother Alice writes:
Tianyu has hydrocephalus, cerebral palsy, autism, and global developmental delays. On top of that, he had to go through eight surgeries, after which he could not sit up. His pediatrician then suggested horse therapy, physical therapy, and occupational therapy. At the PT and OT clinics, he refused to cooperate and even threw tantrums. Horse therapy is the only therapy Tianyu does year-round. Every time Tianyu goes to Tara’s Chance, he experiences what all kids want: to be accepted by others. Tianyu LOVES his riding experiences-- he clearly communicates that by asking to go riding with his huge, infectious grin and by his unwillingness to leave. His favorite horse is Riley. How do we know? With his severe speech impairment, Riley’s name is one of the few words he can say very clearly. He’s also learned the words “Show mama” “Show you” because he’s so proud to show off his accomplishments in horse riding to his mother.
The benefits of riding can be seen in his newfound self-confidence, his increased engagement with the world, and his improved muscle tone for the muscles that enable sitting, which helps with eating. As Tianyu grows, getting his muscles in better shape is a big help to his mother and his aides. As a special needs child, there are significant challenges, but Tara’s Chance provides the opportunity for a much-appreciated enrichment of Tianyu’s life. With a thankful heart, I appreciate Cindy, Tim, and our wonderful volunteers! Your effort to help Tianyu and support me has really changed our life in a positive way.