Talbot Special Riders showcases new home
PRESTON — Caroline and Talbot chamber of commences celebrated the expansion of the Talbot Special Riders with an open house Thursday, Dec. 8, at the organization’s new home at Timber Grove Farm, 6292 Statum Road, Preston.
The therapeutic horseback-riding program for all ages has been providing this service to residents of Caroline, Dorchester, Queen Anne’s and Talbot counties
since 1981. The organization’s mission is to provide physical and emotional therapy to adults and children, using horses. TSR has been a wholly volunteer-driven program since its inception.
The move from Easton to Timber Grove Farm allows the organization to upgrade services by increasing morning and afternoon sessions, with plans to offer weekend sessions and make sessions available to riders year-round. In addition to expanded programs, the farm features a new outside riding ring, a new covered riding ring, new tack room and new stables for therapy horses.
“I want to say my congratulations on behalf of Gov. Larry Hogan and the Maryland Department of Disabilities,” Maryland Department of Disabilities Deputy Assistant Secretary John Brennan said. “Our mission is to make sure that people with disabilities have the opportunities to participate in community activities like the ones your organization is providing.
“Controlling a powerful animal like a horse gives the riders a sense of accomplishment,” he said. “My colleague said she witnessed someone with autism, who never spoke before, learn how to speak to give a horse some commands. She summed it up by saying the outside of a horse is good for the inside of a human being.
“I want to commend you for all of your hard work,” he said. “This is a special day for your organization. These types of services make a huge difference. It is organizations like your organization that help our department advance our mission to make sure that all Marylanders are able to participate fully in life.”
Thursday’s event featured a joint ribbon cutting by both chamber’s and therapeutic demonstrations by TSR executive director and head instructor Kim Hopkins who owns and operates Timber Grove Farm with her daughter, Ashley Hopkins, the TSR equine manager.
“It is awesome to be invited and participate with such a giving and wonderful operation that has been going on for years,” Kathy Hanna of the Talbot County Chamber of Commerce said. “We congratulate them on their expansion, and their new facility.
Caroline County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Ann Jacobs said she is proud to partner with the Talbot Chamber and Talbot Special Riders.
“We as chambers of commence want to help promote what they are doing, and support them,” Jacobs said. “Horses have the ability to help people in all kinds of ways. The therapy is just amazing. We are glad to be a part of this.”
Talbot Special Riders have worked with many organizations since the beginning. The Benedictine School in Ridgely has brought students for therapy at TSR for more than 30 years.
“Some of the benefits we have noticed in the riders that come are improved range of motion, balance, improved self confidence and self esteem,” Benedictine School Physical Therapist Haley Miner said. “We are very happy to have come to Timber Grove Farm with Talbot Special Riders.”
Kim Hopkins is a certified Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International instructor and volunteered a for Talbot Special Riders’ first session in 1981. She has been the afternoon instructor for the last 12 years, and now teaches all morning and afternoon therapy classes. She also oversees the hippotherapy program with occupational therapist Deborah Colborn.
“We are so thankful for the community and all of there support, especially coming out today to see the farm,” Kim said. “To sit back and watch the interaction between the riders and the horses, and the way those two become one is incredible to see.
“It enables the person to be like everyone else,” she said. “They can be taller when they are used to being in a wheelchair. They are able to move more freely. The horses also provide comfort and healing to those who have had a traumatic event.
“It is amazing to watch that interaction,” she said. “I’ve seen one young woman, who did not speak, but her first words she ever spoke was ‘walk’ to the horse. I saw that, and her father just broke down and cried because it was the first time he had ever heard his daughter talk. It is priceless.”
Kim commended Talbot Special Riders co-founder and board director Sandy King for her vision to start the organization and make TSR what it is today.
“Sandy is one of those that is very near and dear to my heart,” she said. “She is like a second mother to me. This has been Sandy’s dream to expand the program, offering full-time, year-round services. It makes me feel so wonderful knowing I’m helping her realize her dream as well as mine.
“Talbot Special Riders truly is a special group,” she said. “Between the volunteers, the clients and the horses, they make everything so much better no matter what type of day you are having. Talbot Special Riders is a wonderful team of volunteers, horses, clients and their families.”
Talbot Special Riders is a member of PATH and is a registered nonprofit organization. Financial support comes from the United Fund of Talbot County, local businesses, members of the community and Talbot Special Rider’s Spring Classic Bike Tour, the organization’s annual fundraiser.
For more information, to donate, volunteer or arrange a visit to Timber Grove Farm, contact Nancy Radosta at 410-604-2290 or firstname.lastname@example.org; Gloria Gibson at 410-745-9762 or email@example.com; or visit www.talbotspecialriders.com/abouthtml.
Bradley Mango, center, waves to the crowd gathered Thursday, Dec. 8, during a demonstration at the Talbot Special Riders new home in Preston. Mango is assisted by TSR volunteer Bernie Miller, left, and occupational therapist Deborah Colborn.
Talbot Special Riders executive director and head instructor Kim Hopkins and Maryland Department of Disabilities Deputy Assistant Secretary John Brennan cut the ribbon at a Caroline and Talbot chamber of commences celebration on Thursday, Dec. 8, for the new home for the Talbot Special Riders in Preston.