News

Therapeutic horse riding gallops to town

For those people seeking an alternative in the care of kids and adults with special needs, one should look no further than the Triple H Ranch of Heidi Sakrismo.

Posted on 10/5/13

By Lee Coleman

In mid-August, Sakrismo founded the Heidi Horse Haven Ranch to provide therapeutic horse riding to special needs people.

Sakrismo started riding horses as a seventh-grader and trained her first horse as a ninth-grader. During the years that followed, Sakrismo volunteered at another therapeutic riding program, working as a helper then a horse leader.

Two years ago, Sakrismo bought two horses and has been training the horses for the program.

“I saw what horses can do for us,” Sakrismo said. “Langdon is a community that doesn’t quite yet understand the abilities of horses.

“A horse is like a pet. It helps get us through hard times.”

Sakrismo started her clientèle with 17-year old Langdon Area Schools senior Will Bata and has watched as Bata has flourished in the program.

“He wasn’t able to straighten his leg but he did the first time he got on the horse,” Sakrismo recalled. “He was very happy being independent on the horse.

“Horses bring out so much in people and they can be caring. They are pretty much like having a dog.”

The key for Sakrismo is being able to see beyond the disability of a client.

“People see someone and all they see is the disability,” she said. “I see the person. I see Will as somebody who is willing to get on the back of a horse

“It takes a lot of courage to ride a horse. It is scary for most people. Even adults are scared of horses. I see Will as being so strong and independent. He gets on that horse and that makes me proud and happy.”

Sakrismo is assisted by Whitney Bachman, who serves as the trainer and lead walker of the horses.

She is assisted by two side walkers who are part of the volunteer corps utilized at the ranch.

“It is amazing to see how this program changes a person so much,” Bachman said. “Just helping people and making them feel independent makes a difference.

“I enjoy seeing them change as a person when they realize how independent they can be.”

Sakrismo believes the sky is the limit when it comes to people with special needs being able to climb on a horse.

And, she is a staunch supporter of a solid volunteer program that ultimately will have the biggest impact on the success of the program.

“The sole providers to help us succeed are the volunteers,” she said. “I’m looking for people who have some knowledge of horses to be horse leaders.

“Or, it can be any member of the community that wants to help out with this program.”

For more information on the program or to volunteer, contact Heidi Sakrismo at (218) 206-4725 or Whitney Bachman at (701) 370-1972.