Right: Hoover father and daughter Greg and Sara Powell support Special Equestrians, Inc., an organization based in Indian Springs Village that provides therapy through horseback riding.
At Special Equestrians, Inc., wheelchair-bound boys and girls can run.
“To see Sara’s confidence level, coordination skills and interaction with others increase over time was phenomenal,” said Greg Powell, Sara’s dad and Special Equestrian board member. “To see a child do something that they didn’t think they were capable of doing and to see the smile on their face, that’s worth it all.”
Whether someone has physical, mental, developmental and/or emotional disabilities, Special Equestrians provides therapeutic, equine-assisted activities that work to increase the independence, confidence and quality of life of each rider.
Sara was diagnosed with a rare biotinidase enzyme deficiency at 6 months old. Lack of this enzyme can result in behavioral disorders, lack of coordination, learning disabilities and seizures.
But she has not let this stop her. Greg said Sara does not consider herself disabled. The 18 year old, a recent graduate of Hoover High School, currently attends Jefferson State Community College, where she studies child care development.
With assistance from nationally certified therapeutic riding instructors and occupational therapists, Sara learns proper horse grooming, horse interaction, placement of horse tack and horseback riding.
All activities on the horses are tailored to meet each rider’s needs. Each horse requires careful selection in order to accommodate a wide range of disabilities and to maintain accreditation standards.
Sara has attended lessons at Special Equestrians since she was 7 years old. For the last four years, she has independently ridden, controlling the horse alone.
“As instructors they know how much they can push or inspire [participants] to go to that next level,” Powell said. “We all need challenges in our life.”
Special Equestrians simply gives individuals the power to feel in control.
Greg witnesses the positive emotional, physical and social effects the organization can have each time his daughter attends.
Every Sunday at 4 p.m., Sara travels to the 8 acres of land the organization uses on Indian Springs School’s campus. During a one-hour lesson, Sara and her horse ride trails and jump arena obstacles.
Sara said all of the horses are friendly and gentle, but over the years, she has grown fond of a quarter horse named Red and an Arabian horse named Ali. Greg recalled that Sara has always loved animals, especially horses.
How you can help
Special Equestrians, Inc. is located at 1215 Woodward Drive and open Tuesday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more, call 987-WHOA (9462) or visit specialequest.org.
How to contribute: Blue Rain Express Carwash, located at 100 Big Mountain Circle off of U.S. 31, donates to Special Equestrians when you purchase a $5 car wash. Enter 9044 into the automated cashier box for the donation to process.
How to volunteer: Contact Gordon Sullivan at firstname.lastname@example.org and visit specialequest.org for volunteer forms. New volunteer training sessions are Sept. 6 from 5-7 p.m. and Sept. 8 from 1:30-3:30 p.m.
Upcoming charity event: 2013 Celebrity Golf Tournament, Thursday, Oct. 3 at Timberline Golf Club in Calera
“I love being in the saddle and being in control,” Sara said. “It’s fun practicing all my skills.”