Did you know horses can be heroes?
A hero is someone who does brave or noble things to help others. A horse can be a hero to a person who is sad, lonely or scared when the animal helps him or her overcome those feelings. Horses can also help people who are sick or in pain to get better through physical therapy.
Some farms have horses that are used as therapists, and to some people, those horses are heroes.
Oak Leaf Therapeutic Horsemanship Center in Factoryville is one such place. Loretta Dragon, owner, founder and executive director of the farm, said she thinks of her 14 horses as her ‚??partners in helping people who have difficulty, autism, CP and strokes.‚?Ě
Marley‚??s Mission in Lake Ariel (soon to move to Newton), is another place where horses are heroes. It is a non-profit organization with the motto ‚??Horses Healing Children.‚?Ě It gives free equine-based (having to do with horses) therapy to children and families who have experienced trauma (had really bad things happen to them).
Both of these places have many heroes besides the horses. These are the people who volunteer their time to help take care of the horses and get involved in the programs there. Here‚??s a little about two of those heroes:
‚?Ę Damion Piotrowski, 22, is a senior at Keystone College, where his major is in business and minor in sports and recreation. He is in the AmeriCorps Scholar program at the college, and volunteers about once a week at Oak Leaf Therapeutic Horsemanship Center, where he does sidewalk work, helps out in the stalls and completes other odd jobs that need to be done. He said his favorite part about volunteering at the center is working with the horses.
‚??Being next to them and being with them,‚?Ě he said, ‚??is soothing, and they‚??re very nice.‚?Ě
He said his work there also benefits his education, especially from a business perspective, in seeing how a non-profit organization operates.
‚??It‚??s different than what a normal business can do,‚?Ě he said. ‚??It‚??s interesting to see the marketing plans and what the business is doing and the growth and how things develop. That‚??s all really helped in school.‚?Ě
Loretta Dragon, owner, founder and executive director of the farm, said, ‚??I like to bring in volunteers. I like college students to come in and volunteer so they can see how a business runs.‚?Ě
‚?Ę Bria Smargiassi, 13, is an eighth grade student at North Pocono Middle School. This past summer, she began volunteering at Marley‚??s Mission, where she does barn chores, helps out with summer camps and events and spends time with the horses. She said her favorite horse is a tall dark brown male named Indy.
She said she enjoys connecting with both the horses and the kids there and feels it‚??s a place where she can say whatever is on her mind without being judged by other people.
April Loposky, program director and founder of Marley‚??s Mission, said Bria does a great job with the horses and is well-liked by the kids. ‚??They (the kids) can look up to her and aspire to be like her,‚?Ě she said.
Bria said she‚??s thankful for the way everyone at Marley‚??s Mission accepted her into the family.
‚??I‚??m so happy they let me into Team Marley‚??s and I will always be apart of it,‚?Ě she said.