Meet Robbie. He’s a retired harness racing trainer now volunteering at a nonprofit organization named HorseAbility that makes the lives of people with special needs better through horseback and driver lessons and encounters.
Meet Jeanne. After volunteering at HorseAbility herself and with her children for many years, she works full-time managing around 200 volunteers who help this very special organization succeed. (I’m having trouble adding the link on my phone — it comes up right away when you Google it)
HorseAbility’s herd of 30 horses includes retired show, racing, police, party and private horses, including a handful of precious miniatures that visit senior homes and events the way therapy dogs do.
As luck or kismet or the hand of my Higher Power would have it, I fell upon HorseAbility by chance. I had ridden my bike to the childhood home of the farmer with whom I’m staying in Boulder, per her request when we both realized how close I was to it. Then, I was working my way back to my hotel (to which I had just moved from my dad and stepmom’s condo, where I had been the last week) when I wandered upon the campus of the State University of New York at Old Westbury. HorseAbility is not part of the college but is located on the vast campus.
A woman mucking the stalls introduced me to Jeanne. And Robbie came by with a small cart attached to a miniature horse named Elf after just concluding lessons with a girl with cerebral palsy and her mother.
When I asked Jeanne what gave her hope, she told me « just coming here each day. It’s hard not to feel good. »
And so, today, this Earth Day, I am honored to share the heroes of HorseAbility with you. Robbie and Jeanne. Everyone else who volunteers and works there. Their supporters. And the 100 or so clients whose lives are made better as a result. This is social sustainability at its best, and the more I travel Round America with a Duck, the more I realize our survival is a social challenge. In fact, it makes perfect sense. Horse sense.