By Aaron Geitner, Director of Development and Marketing, Exceptional Equestrians
At Exceptional Equestrians we work with children and adults with special needs throughout Wisconsin. They may be struggling with physical, sensory, cognitive, behavioral or emotional issues that impact their ability to function and participate in daily activities; activities which most of us take for granted. While the movement of the horse improves mobility, balance, strength, communication and sensory input (just to name a few), the interaction with the horse brings…. joy!
The relationship established between each client and the horse offers so many opportunities for growth and learning, none of which can be replicated virtually. With the assistance of a $5,000 grant from the COVID-19 Community Response Fund launched by the Community Foundation and United Way Fox Cities, we are able to continue to provide services for those in need during these uncertain times.
We are the only provider of hippotherapy, or the use of horseback riding for therapeutic or rehabilitative treatment, in Northeast Wisconsin. Our clients range in age from two to adult with physical and cognitive disabilities such as cerebral palsy, spina bifida, down syndrome, brain injury, autism, sensory processing disorder and neuromuscular disorders. Through the dedication of our clinicians, volunteers and generous donors, Exceptional Equestrians is one of the most comprehensive programs of its kind. Annually, we provide over 3,500 sessions and serve 250 families.
Over 300 community members volunteer with 4,200 volunteer hours logged in 2019. Our footprint for clients coming to our facility for services is growing and currently encompasses the following counties: Brown, Calumet, Door, Fond Du Lac, Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Marathon, Marinette, Oconto, Outagamie, Shawano, Sheboygan, Waupaca and Winnebago. Currently we are serving 120 youth a week. Here at Exceptional Equestrians, no youth is denied services no matter their ability to pay. We offer assistance to the youth and their families with reduced fees to help with the cost of hippotherapy treatment.
The mother of 6-year-old Aiden said, “During these past months of COVID-19, we have come to realize just how important the role of Exceptional Equestrians is in the healing and restorative process that must follow this difficult time.”
We are receiving daily inquiries and referrals for individuals suffering from anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation and other emotional well-being needs. Exceptional Equestrians meets these needs through our hippotherapy, adaptive riding and our Taking the Lead programming. In short, Exceptional Equestrians gives our clients an opportunity to experience the exceptional.
A very special thank you to the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region, United Way Fox Cities and the generosity of the community!