Everyday Agape instructors and horses zone in on teaching skills that strengthen someone’s life not only when they are in the saddle, but more importantly the skills they need to grow in every area of their life. While the goals vary from person to person depending on the challenges that one is facing – whether it’s communication skills, processing skills, coping with emotions, or even motor skills – the ultimate mission is that each participant that comes to our barn leaves better equipped with what they need to thrive in their world outside of the barn.
We often battle the misconception that we just provide “pony rides” and a fun experience for people. Well, yes, we will not deny that participants at Agape have fun and are happy (the joy we share with our riders is otherworldly and priceless!); but, our purpose and our results transfer far beyond that moment in the saddle. Don’t be fooled by the nature of “recreation” or “play” by thinking these activities stop at the enjoyment factor. Our friends and partners at Bradford Woods and PATH Intl. understand this misconception well that we face. The lessons that are taught at the barn transfer to the rest of one’s life, impacting and pouring out into family life, school and community. Horse-facilitated therapy is experiential, holistic, and transformational play that creates hope, joy and a better life for the ones we love.
As our Agape family reflects on our blessings during this season of giving and gratitude, I found this story from one of our families especially powerful. Meet the Gluntz family. Noah has shown us how learning transfers from the saddle to the school.
Our son Noah is a bright, extremely social young man who loves sports and friends. He also has deficits that most people are not aware of: partial blindness, a seizure disorder, and developmental delay to name a few. He has great trouble integrating new information, so is significantly hindered in his ability to progress cognitively like his age-mates.
One of the frustrations of Noah’s developmental delay has been his inability to retain basic math concepts, which has prevented him from progressing onto new levels of understanding. He just could not get the information to stick. But something very cool began to happen once he started riding. All of a sudden, he could do a whole math sheet of basic addition problems with minimal help. Then he was doing mental math, and then he was remembering subtraction. This was HUGE! At this point, Noah was 14 and a half, and he finally could remember and use information from yesterday with only occasional help. Although Noah loves playing soccer and basketball, those activities have not seemed to have such a significant impact on his cognitive, physical, emotional, or spiritual development. The changes we saw were almost immediate with the horseback riding, and they continue to be evident.
We have a very large family (ten children in all), so affording this program would not have been possible without the generous donation of individuals and businesses to the Rider Scholarship program. This was such a huge blessing, as Noah has benefited more from his riding experiences than any other form of therapy he has received in his 15 years!
~Doug and Cathy Gluntz
My goodness – if you all could meet Noah – he would leave an impression. He’s an awesome young man and we are so proud of him (you can watch a video of Noah’s story below). From the saddle to school – Noah’s life has been changed forever. Our scholarship funding is in high demand, as we continue to serve more and more people every year with our programs. We have provided more than 6,500 horse-assisted lessons to an average of 320+ participants like Noah each month so far this year (What?! I know this seems crazy but it is true!). Would you join with us, to give riders like Noah the chance to experience the joy, love, and encouragement of therapeutic horseback riding? Your gift allows us to keep our program fees as low as possible for the hundreds of participants who are served at Agape every month, as well as provide scholarships for 32 riders all year who would not be able to participate were it not for your support.
Thank you for investing in this great mission. Have a very, merry Christmas!