Tal­bot Spe­cial Rid­ers show­cases new home

Times-Record - - Front Page - By DUSTIN HOLT dholt@ches­pub.com

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 nl­ra­dosta@ver­i­zon.net; Glo­ria Gib­son at 410-745-9762 or jdg­ib­son@at­lanticbb.net; or visit www.tal­bot­spe­cial­rid­ers.com/abouthtml.

PHOTO BY DUSTIN HOLT

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.

PHOTO BY DUSTIN HOLT

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.

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