Tracy Brann, Mother of Taylor Brann, age 10
“My family and I have been blessed to have had the opportunity to work with Karen Cuneo and all of the amazing people at Wings and Hooves Therapeutic Riding program. My 10 year old daughter, Taylor, is a wonderfully challenging child, who has been diagnosed with ADHD, Bipolar Disorder and Sensory Integration Dysfunction. We have worked for the last 8 years with a team of medical doctors, psychiatrists, neuropsychologists, therapists, and occupational therapists to properly diagnose and treat Taylor so she can lead a happy, healthy life…However, therapeutic riding has changed Taylor’s life dramatically.
Taylor began riding last August with Karen Cuneo and assisted by many others. Riding has taught Taylor not only to be aware of her own needs, but of others’ needs – in this case, her horse. She has to focus on being on task, exerting control by showing the horse ‘who is the boss, and other things, like being organized…It also builds Taylor’s physical strength, strong posture, and lots of sensory input. During every lesson, she works on establishing healthy relationships with the other children and people with whom she rides…Building trust with the Wings and Hooves people also substantial helps her in developing her interpersonal relationships.
I am sure I could list at least 50 other therapeutic benefits of riding at Wings and Hooves for Taylor, but as a Mom, I see a little girl, who has never been able to participate successfully in team sports, participate fully for almost a year with the horses. I see her have the motivation to complete her school work and house work in order to go to the barn. When she gets ‘stressed out’ or starts having trouble at school, the first ‘happy place’ she can take her mind to is the barn with Velvet (her primary horse.) …Her self esteem is so much better because she is succeeding at riding.
Saying I am grateful doesn’t even to begin to show the heartfelt gratitude we have for this opportunity. It has improved not just Taylor’s life, but our life as a family. I hope many other children have this same opportunity, because it is something that neither medication nor traditional therapy have been able to provide to us.”
Barbara Lawless, Grandmother of Matthew Lawless, age 6
“Matt, my six-year old grandson, was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder when he was three. Matt is very high functioning but is very physically weak. He tires very easily and cannot do the regular things that children of his age do such as ride bikes, play tee-ball or play with friends as they see him as ‘different’…
This spring Matt was introduced to an angel, a horse named Khlassic. Khlassic is a star resident at Wings and Hooves, Karen Cuneo’s therapeutic riding program. I cannot begin to tell you about the changes that I have seen in Matthew in just the last few weeks. The first week we went to ride Matt was anxious just driving there and hesitant to leave my side at the farm. By week four he was out of the car and off to the barn all on his own and way ahead of me! His posture on the horse has improved as he can now remain erect for most of the lesson. He has the confidence to go through his lesson routine, guided by Karen, with confidence…. he is building his strength, confidence, self esteem and doing something that no one else in his class can do – ride horses! He has a horse named Khlassic, who has become his buddy…
Karen and all of her staff are the kindest and most compassionate people Matthew works with. He loves them, the farm, and the rooster, Bob…The Wings and Hooves’ facility is immaculate. I have never been in such a well-organized and well-managed facility…All programs need to be held to this level of professionalism.
I now see how important it is to have programs like Wings and Hooves…I am so thankful for this very valuable therapy. I look forward to the day when Matthew can go off horseback riding with Karen – and no handler. I know he will reach this goal, thanks to Karen and her ‘angels.’”
Deb & Rob Caron, parents of Emily Caron, age 20
“Our daughter, Emily has been in the Therapeutic Riding Program at Wings and Hooves for about one year now. This program has helped her tremendously in several areas, both mentally and physically. It has given her an opportunity to participate in something that is not on a competitive level. It has given her a self confidence that she never had before. She has learned that she can have some control even of that large animal. Her core strength and posture has improved 100%. We are very pleased with the things that have been achieved with Emily over the past year and know that in this program new achievements will continue to be made.”
Emily Caron, age 20
“Riding with Wings and Hooves is FUN because of the wonderful, small farm atmosphere. The horses act calm and friendly and the staff and instructors are really nice and friendly. I enjoy riding because it’s a relaxing and calming atmosphere where you can learn how to care and ride horses…For me, I find patting a horse on the cross ties and talking to them when they’re in their stall calming…The founder and instructor, Karen Cuneo, is very patient and willing to teach us all the things there are to know about horses. She understands, knows, and trusts the horses and tries to match the riders up with the right horse to teach us riding skills.”
Taylor Brann, age 10
“What horseback riding means to me is everything. I love horseback riding. I love Karen, Paul, Kristen, and Velvet. What I love about horseback riding is having fun, learning, riding, helping with the barn, helping everyone and helping take care of the horses. When I grow up, I want to have a horse and I will name her ‘Velvet the 2nd.’ I would like to be in a horse show someday and I will win a prize – a really big prize – and I will be proud of myself; and my family and friends will be proud of me.”