HopeWell Ranch welcomes Stormy to their herd family, a human-activated mechanical horse that teaches safe horsemanship to children and adults.
Located at 6410 W. Leiter Rd., the nonprofit organization was contacted by a woman who had a child with epilepsy. Her daughter loves horses, but she would have seizures persistently. There was a concern about having her on one of their horses because it could be dangerous, says Jodi Stuber, Executive Director and Co-Founder of HopeWell Ranch
“I immediately started to think about the equicizer, which is what Stormy is, and I thought it would be perfect,” Stuber says. “I reached out to Jamie at the Mount Pleasant Area Community Foundation
and I suggested that we would like to write a grant for an equicizer, and she said, ‘This is so cool.’ I applied for the grant, and later, we wonderfully received Stormy.”
Since Stormy isn't as tall as a real horse, HopeWell Ranch provides a mounting block that makes getting on Stormy easier for beginners.
Stormy can accommodate someone up to five hundred pounds. Though Stormy is not as tall as a real horse, HopeWell Ranch provides a mounting block that makes getting on Stormy easier and safer for beginners or anyone who has mobility issues. By having people begin on an artificial horse, Stuber says people will start to gain confidence and will soon be able to transition to a real horse.
In general, horses don’t have an agenda – they typically live in the present. If they do see or sense something is wrong, they will respond, making them wonderful animals to work with for those in therapy or with disabilities.
“I was in the arena with a Veteran and sharing about how one of our Veterans who had helped us start Project Solomon, two of his platoon brothers had sadly taken their lives. I looked at him and said, ‘I just feel like we need to do more,’” Stuber says. “Immediately, one of our horses, her name is Mercy, walked right up to me and put her face on my chest. I said to her, ‘Are you telling me that you want to help me? You want to help more people to?’”
Horses like Stormy are there to make someone’s visit a safe, yet enjoyable experience as they potentially transition to riding a live horse.
In the future, Stuber says HopeWell Ranch is open to partnerships with physical, recreational, or occupational therapists that would like to use Stormy for their clients.
For more information on HopeWell Ranch, visit their website