Heartland Equine Therapeutic Riding Academy (HETRA) was recently awarded a $10,000 one-year grant from United Way of the Midlands.
The money will go toward HETRA’s therapy services program, which allows participants to experience the benefits of equine-assisted services including increased balance, core strength, motor coordination and more, the organization said in a release. HETRA serves participants of all ability levels through Equine-Assisted Services. Every week, more than 130 participants from Nebraska and Iowa partner with the academy’s gentle horses. Whether riding, carriage driving, or grooming, participants have access to the therapeutic benefits associated with working with horses including improved balance and confidence.
“Thank you to United Way of the Midlands and everyone who contributed to the Community Care Fund,” said Edye Godden, CEO of HETRA. “Together we are changing lives one stride at a time.”
Therapy services participants benefit from individualized care where each participant is matched with an occupational or physical therapist as well as an equine partner. Working with horses has been shown to impart therapeutic benefits including increased flexibility, problem solving skills, range of motion and self-esteem, HETRA said. Hippotherapy, a therapeutic treatment technique in which a therapist partners with a horse, targets a participant’s ability to achieve clinical results.
With the help of this grant, HETRA is able to offer 114 weekly, individualized therapy services sessions to participants of all ages and a wide variety of diagnoses. At the end of last year, HETRA therapists reported a 95% increase in physical abilities and 76% increase in mental/social/cognitive abilities for participants.
The funding comes at a time of great need as many participants are recovering mentally, physically, and financially from the COVID-19 pandemic, read a press release from HETRA.
Nikola Herrmann is an example of one participant whose life has been changed from support of organizations such as United Way of the Midlands, HETRA said.
“Since starting sessions at HETRA, I’ve noticed that my son is so much stronger,” said Alexie Herrmann. “He can jump and bend now and that wasn’t happening before. His body is also more regulated which means he’s not getting injured as often. I am over the moon that we found this place and they’ve helped us... I never would have thought about getting my 3-year-old on a horse but it’s a highlight of our week. Nikola tries so hard and does so much to help his body work better. This is a huge help to him and our family and I know it is helping him gain more access to his environments in his day to day life. What I see him do on a horse helps more than any other therapy has.”
According to the release, United Way of the Midlands has served the Omaha-Council Bluffs metro for more than 95 years. With the support of volunteers, community partners and donors, United Way invests donor dollars efficiently and effectively in the local community. These dollars fund basic needs, education and financial stability programs at local nonprofits, creating a circle of support for people in need.