‘Back in the Saddle’ After 50 Years

May 3, 2019

Brenda Ward, a resident at Abernethy Laurels, had dreams of riding a horse again. With the help of a nearby riding center, the retirement community turned her dream into a reality.

Ward has always had a love for equine. “I rode horses often until I had children. Once my children came along, I didn’t ride as much and enrolled them in horseback riding lessons,” shared Ward. “I just love being around horses. They are such beautiful, peaceful creatures.”

Fifty years later and now an amputee, Ward thought that she may never get to ride a horse again. “While caring for Brenda one day, she joked around about getting on the back of a horse and riding away,” said Conni Ortega, a team member at Abernethy Laurels. “I knew we had a program that helped grant resident’s dreams. I remember telling Brenda that I thought I could make this happen for her.”

Ortega nominated Ward for the retirement community’s “Grant a Dream” program and Ward was selected. A phone call to Rising Hope Farms, a therapeutic riding center, turned out to offer the perfect accommodations for Ward.

“We were honored to get the call about Brenda coming to ride at Rising Hope Farms. If there is a group of people who understand limitations and the strong desire to ride a horse, it is our amazing volunteers,” stated Gail Wartner, owner and operator of Rising Hope Farms in Claremont, NC.

On Thursday, Ward saddled up on “TUG,” a 15-year-old Belgian Haflinger Cross with a blonde mane, and never missed a beat. TUG, which is the acronym for “Thanks Unto God,” was gentle as he rode Ward around the arena. “I loved being on top of that horse,” exclaimed Ward. “After 50 years, I can’t believe it.”

Therapeutic riding can benefit individuals of any age with a wide range of challenges, be it cognitive, physical, emotional, and social or a combination. But perhaps one of the most significant impacts of riding is the unmistakable joy a rider receives.

“This is one of the best days I have had in a long time. I just don’t want it to end,” said Ward.

Brenda Ward’s dream to ride a horse again was made possible by Rising Hope Farms and by Grant a Dream, a program through United Church Homes and Services that renews and celebrates the passion while creating joy within the hearts of seniors within their communities.

Learn more about Rising Hope Farms by visiting their website at: http://risinghopefarms.com/