- Cullman, Alabama

November 17, 2013

A dream coming true

The Cullman Times

CULLMAN — A dream that began nearly six years ago is drawing closer to coming true.

Horses Offering People Encouragement (HOPE) has been raising money to build a 60-by-60 arena and 60-by-60 barn on 19 acres on Convent Road to offer therapeutic horseback riding for children with special needs.

Momentum for the project picked up in 2011 when the Benedictine Sisters of Sacred Heart Monastery donated the land for the project to the nonprofit group.

Advocates of therapeutic horseback riding have found the activity helps people with a wide range of disorders and disabilities including: muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, spina bifida, autism among others.

Similar programs across the country have proven popular and successful. Certified instructors are already in place for the Cullman County effort. HOPE president David Poynor said a wide range of skilled individuals and community leaders are backing the program. The plans are ready to be drawn for the project, but some more fundraising will be needed to finish up.

Some of the benefits the program offers include music and nerve stimulation, strengthening of core muscles, improved balance and coordination and creating a sense of responsibility, acceptance and freedom.

“Where to you begin? It’s spiritual, emotional, physical and more,” noted Cullman Police Chief Kenny Culpepper, who serves as HOPE vice president.

For those who benefit from therapeutic riding, a program such as HOPE is a real blessing to offer in a community. Those who volunteer time to assist with the riding programs have also  reported their efforts as deeply rewarding.

HOPE is looking for more volunteers and donations to make the last step in getting the program started. This is an excellent therapeutic program with a proven record of success, The local community was benefit tremendously from HOPE. Just a little more push for contributions and volunteers and the Cullman area community will be offering many residents an important, successful program for years to come.