Introducing: The Heroes Show Team!

Earlier this year, Heroes on Horseback was able to participate in the State Special Olympics horse show that offers a competitive environment for riders with cognitive disabilities. The experience was amazing and such a great moment for all of our riders.

But then, we get home and realize we have all these other riders with physical disabilities that don’t necessarily qualify for Special Olympics. Some of these riders, have been working for years with the Heroes horses, training and learning and growing… but with no paralympics nearby our options were slim to none. Then the light bulb moment came “Let’s just do it. Let’s go to a horseshoe” - The concept isn’t new, the thought has been on our minds for years. But this summer, this summer we made it a reality for a group of girls.

Five talented riders were invited to come work on horse showing. We started by researching, going to local shows and seeing what the classes entailed by visiting the SCAD barn during a schooling show. We then added riding classes to practice ring etiquette and getting used to what the announcer would say, playing out various scenarios one might encounter during a horse show.

Four of our riders were able to participate during the first show on June 22nd. The night before we packed up our horses and headed towards John’s Island for the Sand Dollar Show series. A large group of us stayed at an AirBnb, getting to know each other and bonding over home cooked dinners, we cleaned tack and polished boots and made sure our riders got enough sleep (but who are we kidding, you know they were too excited to sleep!). The horse show lived up to its full theme: “hurry up! and wait.” The show itself moved flawlessly and our riders were able to compete each in two classes, each different from the one before. All in all, the show was a huge success and the learning experience was something that will live with these riders forever.

For these few hours we were at the horse show, these girls were simply defined by the numbers on their backs, they were not held back or moved to a different class, they simply got to go out there and show everyone else how good of a rider they are. The amount of dedication and effort put forth by them and their families (because you know the ENTIRE families were there!) is something I can’t seem to find the words to explain, but can only say is what others would be jealous of.

SHOW LIST/PLACE:

Caylee Dykes, Leadline class – tied for 1st place

Sofia Doto, Walk only class – 4th place

Sage Bennett, Walk/Individual Trot – 1st place
Sofia Doto, Walk/Individual Trot – 3rd place

Ana Bennett, Walk/Trot – 3rd place
Sage Bennett, Walk/ Trot – 5th place

Ana Bennett, Walk/Trot/Individual Canter – 3rd place

Photos courtesy of: Isabella Bennett

Kentucky Derby Party 2019

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What a night! our annual Kentucky Derby Fundraiser was a great success!

This year the Event was the most exciting one to-date with a last minute winner disqualification, new winners were announced, tables rejoiced and others were disappointed at their loss of the win. Our usual program changed this year, beginning the event at 5pm with cocktails and a silent auction.

Our tables were prime location for watching the derby on our TWO big screens. There was yelling, screaming and overall jumping and rallying at the adrenaline shown by the horses! After the race was over, our guests got to enjoy a fabulous sit down dinner. While they finished eating, everyone was able to hear from one of our instructors: Gloria, who introduced one of our “Horse-moms” Susie, followed by a jaw dropping performance by Susie’s daughter Ava. As a participant of Heroes, Ava’s other passion is singing, and her rendition of “This is me” brought the house down! To top it all off we were able to showcase our year end video for 2018.

Then the real fun began with a Live Auction and Fund-a-need!. Our auctioneer extraordinaire Sonny Huntley, with his amazing “assistants” Dr. Debi Lynes and Rebecca Morris, were all able to rally the room and get us some great bids for our live auction and fund-a-need. Once they were done, guests go to enjoy our AMAZING Churchill Downs cake, donated by the French Bakery.

A great new experience for a traditional event guaranteed that Heroes Can Continue its gRowth in empowering our special needs community….one stride at a time!

Partnerships matter!

A company is good as it is. But a company is made better by the partnerships they form. We've been grateful enough to have some great partners as the years go by, at all levels and capacities. Partners help us spread the awareness in locations that maybe we cannot reach by ourselves. 

This past month we were very fortunate to have one of our partners: The Bargain Box, feature HoH as their charity for their ads. Isn't that awesome? 

Bargain Box ad in the Bluffton Mothly for the September issue.

Bargain Box ad in the Bluffton Mothly for the September issue.

Even the smallest efforts count and we celebrate each and every one of them! We truly cannot run an organization of this size without the help of any and everyone! We appreciate it and we know our horses certainly do! 

 

Mike's Story

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“They suggested we put him in a nursing home”

Meredith Holmes vividly recalls her husband Mike’s prognosis in 2008. Mike, an F-18 pilot from Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, suffered a traumatic brain injury in a snowboarding accident following a deployment when he was 27 years old. Life looked bleak for the couple who had been married for just two years. “But I knew Mike would never be happy confined to a bed,” says Meredith. After many surgeries and traditional physical therapy, they were united with Heroes on Horseback (HOH) which changed their lives.

After years of disappointment and hearing "No you can’t," Mike says HOH was a refreshing challenge that focused on not just what he could accomplish today but what the future had to offer. He and Meredith agree that HOH has been transformational in their lives. Meredith says, “Heroes treats everyone with equal respect; they don’t assume you can’t; they assume you can.”


Read more about Mike Holmes in this  WJCL article   →

Read more about Mike Holmes in this WJCL article →

Special Olympics: State Competition

Spring at Heroes on Horseback was busy with training in preparation to compete at the State Special Olympics Equestrian Competition.

Two of our star riders, Rashawn Young and Abby Beall, traveled to Aiken, SC to represent Heroes on Horseback and Area 8 at the competition. The event began Friday morning with our riders and support team arriving early to settle in the horses and get the lay of the land. Getting everything organized at a horse show requires many helping hands, and everyone worked nonstop to get our makeshift tack/feed room set up so we would be ready when our horses arrived at the barn. Once Sam and Maverick were comfortable in their stalls, the team went to investigate the details concerning class divisioning that was scheduled in the afternoon.  

"At Special Olympics competitions, all athletes are given an equal chance to participate, perform and be recognized for doing their best by their teammates, family, and fans. This happens through a unique process called divisioning. Athletes are grouped by age, gender and ability – giving everyone a reasonable chance to win. You can see divisioning in action in all sports, including athletics, football (soccer), table tennis, skiing, or gymnastics." - Special Olympics, divisioning fact sheet

Later, our coaches Laura and Jessica completed a warm-up ride on our horses, while Shawn and Abby prepared for their divisioning classes.  Riders were able to walk around and become comfortable with the arenas where competition would take place. Because Shawn and Abby are independent riders, they were also allowed the unique experience of being able to prepare by riding in a practice arena, where they received some last minute tips from coaches Gloria and Star. With divisioning classes successfully completed, it was time to rest and get ready for Saturday's competition. 

Competition Day dawned with extremely warm and sunny weather, but Shawn and Abby were true professionals and looked their best in their competition attire.  They made everyone proud with their outstanding performances, and both earned first place ribbons for their efforts.  An afternoon thunderstorm cut short the Closing Ceremony celebration, but the rain couldn't dampen the spirits of our champion riders.