Sunday, April 11, 2010


We all have places that tug at our hearts – that speak to our souls and spirits. You know this is how we feel about the beloved Cove at Celo Mountain, if you have followed our blog. There is another place up on Celo where I am pretty sure you can feel the touch of angel wings. The Appalachian Therapeutic Riding Center, located in the breathtaking South Toe River Valley with our mountains in long-range profile, is a place of deep beauty on many levels. Executive Director of this non-profit, Miika Rolett, and teacher, Lisa Mauney – together with dedicated volunteers – work miracles with children and teens dealing with physical, mental, social or emotional challenges. Speaking from personal experience, there is not a volunteer there, or a parent, who cannot testify to the transforming experience of this special place in the lives of not only the children – but in those of us fortunate enough to have been touched by this healing process.

The website gives the background of the non-profit: The program was founded in 1986 as a pilot program with a grant from Blue Ridge Mental Health and was incorporated as a non-profit, 501-3C in 1987. It is currently funded by grants, donations, fees, and the Yancey County United Fund. In 2006, ATRC became a premier accredited operating center by North American Riding for the Handicapped Association or NARHA. Instructors: ATRC has two instructors fully certified by the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association. In addition, physical, occupational, and speech therapists are often involved, either hands-on in the program or as consultants.

Impressive, but the real story behind this amazing group of people – and horses – is told most poignantly in an excellent amateur video by people who love this program as dearly as we do. If you need a day-brightener, take the 18 minutes to watch the video that has been uploaded to YouTube (linked at the end of this blog), or purchase your own copy through ATRC. When this video was shown at last year’s Derby Day fundraiser, you could hear a pin drop – and not just a few sniffles being wiped away - in what had been a festive celebration.

The book and movie, The Horse Whisperer, and the more recent book, The Tao of Equus, attest to the healing power horses can have on the human psyche and body. Another facility near us, Equinection, uses the Advanced Epona Approach of equine therapy to allow individuals the opportunity to experience this form of healing.

The year’s biggest fundraiser for ATRC is upcoming on May 1, 2010 at the Burnsville Town Center. It is the Kentucky Derby Party (Derby attire suggested – hats and all!) There will be pre-race activities, the Run for the Roses, the Kentucky Derby Dinner (all homemade by the Executive Director and her helpers), and big-band music and dancing with the Buddy K Orchestra. Seating is limited and tickets will sell rapidly, but do call if you would like to join us in celebrating this wonderful organization. 822-675-5630
The Appalachian Therapeutic Riding Center (Part 2)

In memory of one of the most tranquil horses ever to work with and love children - Cookies (April, 2010)

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