This is a story about my daughter, Charlotte.
You will learn how Southern Vermont Therapeutic Riding Center (SVTRC) has played a critical role in Charlotte's healing process, and has given us a reason to be optimistic in the face of adversity.
As a young girl, Charlotte spent many hours at the neighbor's barn working for lessons and the opportunity to ride. Eventually, she bought her own horse and became an accomplished horsewoman. Then, inspired by 9/11, Charlotte joined the Vermont National Guard and served two tours in Iraq, earning the rank of Sergeant.
Charlotte returned from Iraq with both physical and emotional injuries. Thankfully, she connected with
, where she was able to find comfort volunteering her talents to help train Thor as an Equine-Assisted Activities & Therapies (EAAT) horse.
Tragically, Charlotte suffered another injury a year ago and spent 50 weeks in several hospitals. Thanks to SVTRC, Charlotte is back in the saddle again, in spite of being in a wheelchair. She will say that she is a "little wobbly" and "it is not like it used to be" but it gets better every time.
Charlotte proudly served two tours in Iraq with the National Guard, earning the rank of Sergeant
In Charlotte's words:
"I'm 31 and last year at a horse show I had a heatstroke and cardiac arrest. After a year of rehabilitation, I am riding again at SVTRC. Without horses I wouldn't be here today to share my story. While I am not riding my own two horses I still get enjoyment from riding and grooming the horses at SVTRC.
Riding helps me regain my balance and core strength. I also get the feeling of freedom and being myself when we are in the ring. Each lesson I work on something new and I improve upon the old. In retrospect the brain injury gave me a new perspective. I do not take each day for granted. Before if riding was easy, it is hard now. SVTRC gives meaning to my life by allowing me to get out of my wheelchair and move.
Therapeutic riding at SVTRC improves my posture, coordination, strength, and balance. Each improvement is good in itself, but combined they are better. SVTRC provides a relaxed and encouraging learning environment. The instructor, volunteers, and horses are very professional and understanding of all disabilities and the difficulties they produce."
I am not a horsewoman, but I am Charlotte's mother. I have seen the sense of confidence, self-esteem, responsibility, pride, sensitivity and physical strength that she and other participants in the program experience. I seldom leave the barn with a dry eye.
Charlotte and Thor ride into the river to cool down after a lesson, after Charlotte's return from Iraq
I have watched Charlotte compete in many horse shows and competitions where she proudly won ribbons of every color. Now, thanks to SVTRC, she is able to get that piece of her life back. With that piece, I know other improvements will come. I have seen improvements in strength and posture but most of all, her will. It may never be the same as it used to be, but it will be the best that it can be. Charlotte's connection with horses and other people that love horses has always been a healing force.
Thank you for reading Charlotte's story. It is just one example of the hundreds of people, young and old, who need and benefit from EAAT.
Please join me in making a tax-deductible donation
to Southern Vermont Therapeutic Riding Center. You can help so many people to benefit from EAAT, as Charlotte does
Your help is needed to keep this crucial program strong and providing needed EAAT services to the community. Please join Charlotte and me in our commitment to SVTRC today.
Your support is truly appreciated. Join us, too, in thanking Lorna, the volunteers and your fellow donors who make SVTRC's programs possible.