A nonprofit in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Pegasus , “[provides] therapeutic horseback riding programs and equine-assisted activities and therapies for children and adults with physical, developmental, and intellectual disabilities.” Not long ago, I did a Sock Talk podcast episode about therapy animals. In that episode I talk about how horses could be considered comfort animals, but could never be a service animal. Although a horse couldn’t receive the title “service animal,” this doesn’t mean they can’t provide a service for people with disabilities.
 
Pegasus was founded in 1982 by Carol and Rich Tatum with the wonderful mission to “utilize horse’s movement and the important bond between horse and rider, to promote improved physical and emotional well-being and independence for individuals with disabilities.” According to PATH International, “[people with physical needs often show improvement in flexibility, balance and muscle strength” through Equestrian-Assisted Activities and Therapies.” Another benefit from EAAT is emotional rewards. “The unique relationship formed with the horse can lead to increased confidence, patience and self-esteem.” PATH International even mentioned that new scientific research is showing how perceptive equines can be. “Equines are able to perceive, respond to and learn from the impressions they receive from minimal sensory stimuli.”
  
Thanks to an article from Disability Scoop, I learned that due to the nature of quarantine, Pegasus had to shift the way they help their clients. Assistant program director, Emily Wilmot, and program director, Teresa Doherty, decided to take Pegasus on the road. They arranged visits by two miniature horses to many of the facility’s regular clients. One particular child, Cameron, a 4-year-old child with autism and ADHD, could not have been happier to see the horses he had been spending time with since January. His genuine joy and excitement even brought one of the volunteers to tears. Cameron’s mother, Lauren, says, “The up-and-down movement [of riding a horse] relaxes [her son’s] body, and seems to relax his brain.”
 
It’s been fascinating to learn about this different approach to animal therapy. I am grateful for people like Carol and Rich Tatum, and all those who carried on their values in Pegasus. What a wonderful organization whose mission is “to promote improved physical and emotional well-being and independence for individuals with disabilities.” This organization is an example of how there are many ways to make a difference, we each just do what we can.


Gerald Nebeker, Ph.D. Orange Socks President 

Pin It on Pinterest