Hartsfield participates in Special Olympics

Debbie Snapp
ECB Publishing, Inc.

Kathleen Hartsfield was just one of many participants in the Special Olympics of Georgia (SOGA) held in Gainesville at the Equine Show Pavilion on October 13-15. Hands and Hearts for Horses (HHH) took 13 clients and five horses to the North Georgia event.
It was a wonderful experience for Kathleen and for the other participants. She received a 'gold' in Horsemanship and 4th in the Trail Class. Her mom says, “God continues to bless and allow physical improvement.”
Kathleen has been riding at HHH for over a year now and continues to ride the special trained horses. She does have one horse that she especially likes to ride; Tokette seems to meet her needs during her therapy sessions. Most horses are donated and are older animals.
As she is an independent, intermediate rider, Kathleen does not need a side or a lead person helping her. She manages the horse on her own, with her instructor present in the riding ring. She rides at a walk and trot while doing exercises in the saddle to help her balance and strengthen her core. She usually rides once a week.
She adds, “I never thought therapy could be such fun!” She credits the PATH coaches for making her sessions physically and mentally fun.
“You should see the faces on the kids when they are participating in their therapy sessions and during the competitions. They light up. It's just amazing to me,” she says. “God has extremely blessed me with the capa-bility of being entertained by doing something I love and enjoy. Some of these kids can't even brush their teeth and here they are in control of the horses they are on. It's awesome! Its a blessing to see the pure, natural joy of these kids.”
Kathleen is the daughter of Mary and Bill Hartsfield of Monticello.
HHH is located in Thomasville, Georgia. Its mission is to celebrate the unique gifts and challenges of each individual, encouraging growth through the benefits of therapeutic horsemanship and human relationships.
HHH provides unique therapeutic services to special needs individuals who often have limited access to specialized physical activities







and most have limited resources. The population served includes, but is not limited to, individuals with Autism (including Asperger Syndrome,) Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy and Traumatic Brain In-jury. Therapeu-


tic riding is documented to help improve gross and fine motor skills, cognitive abilities, and general well-being.
With help riders become stronger both physically and mentally and are able to be more successful in day-to-day functioning because of therapeutic riding lessons.
Kathleen suffered traumatic brain injury



from a boating accident in 2004. Since then she's had to learn how to walk, talk, and take care of herself. With encouragement and prayer from her family and friends, she improves each and every day. She still has issues with her balance but someday that too will correct itself.