Have you met “Stormy,” the miniature horse that visits local schools and healthcare facilities for children? If not, you need to get to know her and her work. She resides at a horse farm at the end of a dirt road just past Smithtown in Marion County where she, her other horse buddies and human handlers run one of the most amazing therapeutic programs that has a significant impact on many families across our region. On Eagles’ Wings is a therapeutic horse farm that provides a safe environment for individuals with disabilities, enabling them to enrich and enhance their lives through equine assisted activities and therapies. More specifically, On Eagles’ Wings uses their horses and facility to provide a therapeutic environment for those individuals with a variety of disabilities including, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome, Multiple Sclerosis and so many others, to increase physical, cognitive and sensory development.
The running of an eleven horse farm with all of the daily work to care for the horses is only exacerbated by the needs of those that use the therapeutic services and their families. Volunteers not only work the facilities to keep it functioning, but they also work hard to raise funds to support the program and to ensure that there is adequate equipment to meet all national standards and to meet the needs of the patients. Founder Carol Pettito leads these volunteers. Through their hard work, the program has grown and expanded to include an education portion for college-level students in the area looking to enter the field of equine therapy. Carol, with all of her hard work and dedication to the growth of the program, is why we, along with WBOY-TV, have designated her as this month’s Celebrating Volunteers award winner.
Why horses? “We have found that the horse movement mimics the human walk and in doing so, provides the rider with a feeling of completion that puts them at ease,” stated Carol. “We bring in horses and train them to work with children and adults with disabilities to encourage a bond that leads to tremendous growth and development. Many times participants and their families experience things that were never thought possible before their interaction with the horses.”
On Eagles’ Wings is certified to offer services through the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International and the American Hippotherapy Association. With physical therapists and occupational therapists using their programs, the facility has been able to provide an alternative method to families that want something above what a normal medical facility may be able to provide. On Eagles’ Wings and the program associated with it does not take the place of traditional methods, but offer a way to enhance those treatments.
“Carol and her facility provide a service that is not found in other areas of the state,” stated Marisa Matyola of WBOY-TV. “The development of this program and the amount of volunteer hours necessary is something important that we want to highlight.”
“I didn’t know this facility existed before visiting with Carol and her staff,” said Tim Miley, owner of The Miley Legal Group. “Watching the work that they do and how it impacts the participants, is awesome. Carol and the dedication she has to both the horses and patients is wonderful to see. I can’t wait to continue to work to support her program and others like it that focus on healing and discovering new ways to help those with disabilities and their families.”
To learn more about On Eagles’ Wings and their programs, contact Carol at (304)288-9748, visit their website at OnEaglesWingsWV.org or “Like” their Facebook page at facebook.com/oneagleswingstherapeuticridingcenter. The facility is holding their Annual Jamboree on September 16th from 1-5pm hosted at the facility. The event includes games, raffles and of course the horses.
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The Celebrating Volunteers awardees receive public recognition for not only themselves but their organization. They also receive a $500 contribution to the organization they represent in their name. Marisa Matyola of WBOY TV and Tim Miley of The Miley Legal Group work together to select the awardees from the many nominations received from the public. The volunteer selected will have demonstrated their commitment to an organization through volunteerism and support.
“I am an avid supporter of volunteerism in our communities,” Miley stated. “The Celebrating Volunteers program is a way that we can recognize the hard work and dedication of individuals across our region.”
We look forward to recognizing a number of worthy individuals while giving their organizations a part of the spotlight. The program will continue recognizing volunteers throughout the coming year. In order to nominate a volunteer to receive this award, please click on the Celebrating Volunteers logo.