Ahead With Horses (AWH) is a non-profit therapeutic riding organization that assists
approximately 200 severely disabled children each month in and around Los Angeles.
Their brochure speaks quite eloquently of their goals and accomplishments:
Physically, AWH takes children with disabilities through a complex series of movements
while the horse rhythmically moves the body in a manner similar to the human gait.
This improves the children's posture, balance and muscle control.
Mentally, AWH increases concentration, impoves sequential thought and helps children
learn to speak and develop spatial awareness.
Emotionally, AWH provides the opportunity for children to bond with the horses, instructors
and volunteers to build confidence and trust, but most importantly, the sheer sense of joy
raises their spirits and brings smiles to their faces.
Socially, AWH nurtures a positive self-image. For the first time in their lives, children with severe
disabilities often experience a sense of independence.
The children have disabilities such as Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Spina Bifida, Paraplegia,
Autism, Quadraplegia, Muscular Dystrophy and Autism. Some of the children are unable to walk,
some are blind - but all of them benefit from the special kind of therapy provided by the gentle
horses and caring staff.
Not only do the children benefit, but the horses benefit as well. In 1997, the Santa Monica Police Department Mounted Unit donated two retired police horses to AWH rather than allow them to face an uncertain future. The horses, Flex (25) and Chris (20), both Quarter Horses, had developed arthritis and were no longer able to respond quickly to emergency calls. Ahead With Horses provided the horses with a "happy and dignified life" after police work. As a matter of fact, all of the horses that come to AWH are donated, many from similar circumstances. Most are Draft Horses.
Ahead With Horses receives nearly all of its funding through private donations. Each dollar is a step closer to the goal of getting children off of the waiting list and onto horses!