This week Changing Leads made a surprise delivery to a few very special children just in time for Christmas; graduates Shalane and Leondardtown are the newest members of the Hope Reins program at the Palmer Home for Children! The young equestrians who live at the Home will use them for riding lessons, and the more advanced students will even have the opportunity to compete in local horse shows with them. It’s going to be a unforgettable Christmas for one group of young horse lovers, and we were so excited to surprise the children with such a special delivery this week.
Based in Columbus and Hernando, Mississippi, the Palmer Home for Children is a Christian-based organization that provides a home, family, and community to children who don’t have them. Their comprehensive approach to working with needy and homeless children recognizes and addresses the multi-dimensional aspects of their lives: physical, emotional, educational, and spiritual. One of the programs they use to help their children grow in these ways is Hope Reins.
The Hope Reins program offers therapeutic riding that encourages mental and physical development through equine-assisted activities. Working with horses helps the children overcome fears, build self-esteem, stimulate intellectual function, and inspires confidence. Riding also increases mobility, posture, and balance, and helps to stimulate compassion in Palmer Home children, linking the bond with horses to the ever-present love of Christ. The children in the Hope Reins program learn the ins and outs of horsemanship, take regular riding lessons, and often go on to compete in local hunter and jumper competitions. Having access to horses with the ability to walk/trot/canter in a ring and jump courses is essential for these students to continue their horsemanship education.
Board member Kirstin Murphy, also president of the Alabama Hunter Jumper Association, introduced the rest of the Changing Leads Board of Directors to the folks at the Palmer Home and is an advocate for the Hope Reins program. She has particular interest in helping make horse showing possible for the students who are interested in continuing their horsemanship education, working with horse show organizers throughout the Southeast to help reduce the costs of showing for the Palmer children. Kirstin also donated show clothing and tack to the program this week to help these young riders get a head start on the show world.
While not all retired racehorses who come through Changing Leads are suitable for this type of environment, we are so happy to have had two come through our program this year who we feel will thrive with these budding equestrians. Both Leonardtown and Shalane settled in quickly upon arrival at the Palmer Home, and the young equestrians beamed with excitement and eagerness to get acquainted with their new partners. Check out the slideshow below from our special Christmas delivery this week.