In this week's Art of Aging, we meet some women over 50-years-of-age who are fulfilling a lifelong love affair to work with horses.
The women are volunteers for Special Equestrians.
This is a group that for more than 30 years has been harnessing the power of horses to help people with disabilities.
Denise Quirk, Executive Director of Special Equestrians said, "The best thing that happens here is the interaction between the horses and our riders to see the little ones discover horses for the first time or speak their first word on the back of the horse."
Special equestrians uses riding to improve strength, balance and flexibility for people with physical challenges.
They also improve concentration and social interaction for those with cognitive or behavioral issues.
Mary Joe May, the Development Director of Special Equestrians says, "Horses are wonderful at interacting with people and giving response to people. They may not know that someone is on the autism spectrum, but they know there is something that they need to understand to communicate."
Special Equestrians has 28 stalls and 15 horses. There are over 100 volunteers and 320 student-participants.
Elaine Ballengee who is a Volunteer with At-Risk-Students said, "I like working with kids who have managed to rise above the hardships they deal with every day, and then within a month, they're just loving it and willing to do anything."
For many of the horses, the program offers the chance for a second career.
"They've been show horses, they've been race horses. We have one who was a police horse, so at the same time we've been doing wonderful things for people, but we're also doing wonderful things for horses," said Denise Quirk, Executive Director of Special Equestrians.
There are many volunteer opportunities out there for those looking to get involve.
You can connect with some on of those opportunities in the Art of Aging section.
Art of Aging: Special Equestrians