Riding

Gift Horse

One couple's rewarding story of donating their horses for therapeutic riding.

From the American Quarter Horse Foundation

Earl Meadows, a World War II and Korean War vet, and his wife, Ruth, made some difficult, yet beneficial, decisions six years ago when they donated three American Quarter Horses to the Windridge Therapeutic Riding Center in Longview, Texas.

An avid member of AQHA, Earl began his relationship with American Quarter Horses in 1986, and thoroughly enjoyed service in the Sheriff’s Mounted Unit, along with pleasure riding and showing.

Ruth founded Safe Haven, an organization that rescued abused and aged horses. Together, they shared very strong feelings about providing nothing but the best care for any animal. The couple worked tirelessly to ensure that both good care and a safe environment were provided through Safe Haven.

Are you aware of some of the costs involved with owning a horse? AQHA's Buying and Owning Your First Horse report outlines boarding costs and other things you can expect.

Margo Dewkett of Windridge Therapeutic Equestrian Center was thrilled to learn of the Meadows’ intention to donate their horses six years ago.

“Each horse is a priceless gift to the center. The best feeling imaginable is to be able to use an animal that we love to benefit a child or an adult with a disability.”

Golden Poco Mac or “Mac,” now 18 years old, is a perfect match for Windridge’s program, according to Margo. “Quality conformation is valuable to a therapeutic riding center. The horse’s movement manipulates a rider’s body to the finest degree as if they are walking. Quality conformation and movement helps influence a body with a disability. For instance, a child with cerebral palsy whose body knows only the movement of a wheelchair or being carried by a parent has not been internally influenced.

The horse’s gait influences the child’s body from the inside out: their balance and equilibrium improves correctly, spastic muscles relax or flaccid muscles tone correctly, joint range of motion takes place, the circulatory and nervous systems activate normally just as if the child began walking.

“We look at disposition, soundness and conformation in determining whether a horse is a good fit for our program at Windridge,” Margo says.

AQHA's Buying and Owning Your First Horse report can help you develop the type of special relationship Earl and Ruth meadows shared with their horses.

After donating a horse to a therapeutic riding center, many owners continue a relationship with their animals. Ruth says before Earl passed away in May, 2008, his favorite thing to do was to go to the barn and feed his horse’s carrots.

After donating Mac, Earl would show up at Windridge monthly with 50 pounds of carrots – enough for the entire herd. He would say, “How could I give a carrot to Mac and not all of them?”

“He loved his horses tremendously,” says Ruth. “The opportunity to tell the story of him and his horses is the best gift anyone could have given him. It is how he would have wanted to be remembered.”

Learn more about donating your horse at donatemyhorse.com. Donatemyhorse.com is proud to be partnered with PATH International.

You can make a difference!

Donate to America’s Horse Cares today, and help support therapeutic riding endeavors.