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Children with special needs learn life skills from horses at Lincoln horseback riding program

Massachusetts horseback program helps children with special needs learn life skills
Massachusetts horseback program helps children with special needs learn life skills 02:27

LINCOLN - In 1776, Paul Revere was captured by the English in Lincoln on the night of his famous ride, which is now memorialized at the Minuteman National Historic Park. And just down the road from that spot, a different type of horseback riding continues in 2024.

"Lovelane is a pediatric, therapeutic horseback riding program serving children with special needs," said Wendy Bell, the executive director of Lovelane Special Needs Horseback Riding program. 

Each week, more than 100 students from ages two and up ride at the Lovelane. 

"It's good for my mind, my balance, and having friends," Katie Farmer said. Now 28, she's been attending Lovelane since she was five, and has reaped the benefits.

"I feel happy"

Thirteen horses take center stage, helping the students in all sorts of ways.  

"It's helping people with their core strength. They get to work on gross motor skills and fine motor skills while they're here" Bell said. 

She also points out the psychological and emotional benefits for students.

"This becomes for many of our kids their equivalent of a team sport, and the horse is part of their team, and the instructor and volunteers are part of their team."

"I feel happy, you know, especially for a few horses I feel like I have a bond" Farmer said.

Decades in Lincoln

Founded by Debby Sabin in her backyard in 1988, Lovelane has grown considerably. In 2004 the organization moved into its current home, a thoughtfully created area with 13 paddocks, a heated indoor riding arena and a therapy classroom for unmounted activites and other uses.

The unmounted program is age specific and geared for students who may not be capable of being on horseback.

"Kids are learning social skills, cognitive skills, horsemanship skills" Bell said.

Strong sense of community

Students aren't just interacting with the horses. They build friendships with instructors, volunteers and each other.

"It's a very good place, a very good small community" says Farmer.

Lovelane operates year-round on a semester season. There is a shorter summer session, and financial assistance is available. You can find more information on their website.

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