Since 2019, Turning Point’s Mini horses, Baxter and Sparky have traveled to The Life Center to visit participants and use their equine magic to boost cognitive, verbal and mobility skills. But this week, five members of the Life Center crew made a field trip to the Ranch. A few made it clear that they wanted to meet “Tall horses.”That’s how Larry brought home the Gold again. He is part of the carefully trained herd used in therapeutic riding and other activities at Turning Point. It’s a job he found after retirement from a competitive career in Reining with the OSU Equestrian Team.
Turning Point’s mission matches the magic of horses with tools to build futures for people facing challenges. Those challenges might be mental or physical disabilities like those facing many of the Special Education students who come to the Ranch through a contract with the Stillwater Public Schools.
Or the challenges might be age-related disability, health or memory decline like some of the Life Center participants battle.
For Kathy and Paul, time with Larry brought back a flood of memories and opened the flood gates of stories to share.
Kathy stayed by Larry’s side the whole hour and called him “absolutely beautiful” and “a stud and a half.” Larry loved it.
Her Life Center colleague, Paul, massaged Larry throughout the hour.
“Larry is an angel on earth,” says Turning Point Executive Director, Rachel Royston. “He really senses what people need. We call it emotional intelligence.”
Not every horse has it, Royston explains, but the best therapeutic horses do. And programs like Turning Point are always looking for those special ones.
“They are usually retired from a successful career. We have roping horses, polo horses, and reining horses,” according to Royston. The best ones are smart and looking for a new job. They tell us if therapeutic riding and activities are their “thing.” We can show them what’s expected, but we can’t make them love it. Some do and some don’t. We’re looking for three horses now as there are students on our waiting list.
Kristy Moorman is the Life Center’s Executive Director and she says the field trip was a home run.
“It’s so good for our clients to get out in the community – so many are withdrawing physically and verbally. Interaction like this that spontaneously sparks conversation plus the physical activity of leading or grooming a horse is priceless. We loved watching their eyes sparkle again!”
Larry went back to the pasture with a little extra swagger too.
Turning Point is a premier accredited Therapeutic Horsemanship Center located on Country Club Road in Stillwater. The program was established in 2000 and offers programs in therapeutic riding, literacy, at-risk youth and mobile mini activities plus academic partnerships with OSU.
The Life Center is a United Way agency located at the First Christian Church to offer safe and enriching activities for older individuals who need daily assistance. Founded in 1983, the Life Center also supports families and caregivers who can continue working with peace of mind thanks to their quality programming.