WARSAW — Magic is experienced by those who utilize Magical Meadows, a therapeutic horseback riding stable.
“We started coming out with her in preschool … kept riding after preschool was done. In August when school started, she started walking. She didn’t walk when we first came out. Working here gave her the energy she needed and strength in her legs to walk on her own. Cowboy Carl (Adams), one of her favorites is who she walked to for the first time,” said Amy Seewald, whose daughter Anna, 6, lights up with delight as she quickly walks to get her horse feed, or a brush to brush it down after a ride. “It is one of her favorite places in the world. She knows how to get here from home (Etna Green area).”
The Seewalds are not the only parents who have seen a change in their child.
“Self confidence, good core strength and movement,” is what Tim Fuller, Nappanee, has seen in his daughter Theresa, 8.
“She loves it. She is very excited every time we’re heading this way,” Cindy Bockelman said about her 11-year-old daughter Kendal. “I think she likes the independence … it makes her feel good to do it by herself and not have someone there to tell her what to do all the time.” Bockelman has seen Kendal remain focused on something for a significant amount of time while she’s at Magical Meadows. “She stays focused on this almost the whole hour. That does not happen very often. It’s a big deal … focused on everything, she listens and did whatever Miss Tammy said.”
There are hundreds more stories of the changes seen in those who have participated in programs at Magical Meadows.
Currently Magical Meadows assists 120 riders between the ages of 18 months to 80 years of age, with physical, emotional, cognitive, behavioral and other disabilities. This includes students in special needs classes at area high schools and several facilities for troubled youth.
This month starts the 12th year for Magical Meadows. It has grown from seven acres to 41 acres with 16 horses. The addition of additional acreage last year has saved the non-profit organization $30,000 on hay for the horses by raising its own hay and expanding opportunities for the riders.
“A lot of our riders are independent riders. So that allows us to build more trails and do other things,” said Tammy Stackhouse, founder. She hopes to have those participating in the veterans program, Warriors Mount Up, to cut some trails in the back part of the property. “It will give them a purpose and project.”
The program per participant is one hour a week for six weeks and there is a fee, used to offset expenses. “This is an enhancement to the therapy they do received. But it may be the only type of therapy they have … if somebody can’t pay, at the end of the day, they still get on a horse,” Stackhouse said. Magical Meadows hosts fundraisers, rely on individuals, service organizations or church donors and the Good Samaritan Foundation to help. But no one is turned away.
Being a non-profit organization, financial support is always needed, but just as important is the need for helping hands. “Volunteers are a key to everything,” said Adams. “We definitely need people willing to take us on …” he added. “Just having people there to support the parents and encourage the kids is important.”
A highlight of each year is a horse show. This year’s event will be 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 14. Participants in programs at Magical Meadows will show off what they have learned and can do. “It’s a bid deal for the kids .. day to shine,” said Stackhouse. Past shows have had more than 300 attending and cheering on the participants.
Magical Meadows is located on CR 525N, Warsaw, just south of Oswego.