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Fundraiser helps horse therapy programs for locals with disabilities, veterans

The Fall into the Saddle Fundraiser will be taking place at the Carterville Community Center on October 4th. 

Money raised from the dinner goes toward Specialized Equine Services and Therapeutic Riding’s programs at Giant City Stables.   

One of those programs helps adults and children with disabilities. 

Participants do different exercises with the horses, both on the ground and riding them

This helps those with disabilities learn trust, communication and helps them recovery from their injuries. 

Patricia Nardini, who helped co-found the Specialized Equine Services, says many parents who have children in the program are amazed by their child’s progress. 

"A number of them where the child was autistic, non-verbal started talking," Nardini explains. "Their first words were "walk on," which is our cue for us to have the horse move forward." 

While the other program helps veterans who suffered injuries or have emotions to work through from their military service. 

A veteran who has taken advantage of the program is Kevin MacDonald. 

He was in the Army for 10 years and suffered brain and spinal injuries while saving a man’s live in Croatia. 

MacDonald is now the president of Specialized Equine Services and encourages other veterans to get involved as well. 

He adds there’s no judgment or negative stigma involved.

 "When veterans come here it’s not setting around like group therapy. We’re not going to talk about the all the pain and horrible things that have happened to you," MacDonald explains. "You’re just going to work with the horse. That’s all you’re doing."

Therapeutic sessions cost $90 but fundraisers like Fall into the Saddle keep costs at $35 for adults and children with disabilities. 

There’s also scholarships available for children, so the cost could even be cheaper for them. 

It’s free for veterans, who can contact Giant City Stables to sign up. 

The pasta dinner is $20 for adults and $10 for children. 

Those who wish to buy tickets, can find contact information here

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News 3 Staff

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