Community Champions: Pegasus Therapeutic Riding Academy

Updated: Mar. 31, 2021 at 12:33 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - The Pegasus Therapeutic Riding Academy has had a hard time keeping up with donations and volunteering both down during the pandemic.

The WTOC Community Champions at the Thunderbolt stable have not let that stop them from offering the classes that have become irreplaceable for families of children with disabilities.

“We take these children, we put them on a horse and the therapy they receive is nothing short of miraculous,” Peggi Noonan said.

You might also call it a miracle that Pegasus Therapeutic Riding Academy has been able to ride out the pandemic, continuing to offer their services to families who need them as financial support for non-profits has dwindled.

“We were able to do it because Peggi put in strict protocols. It’s outside - it was incredible because this is the only sport he can do, literally,” Eva Joseph said.

Joseph’s son Stephen has been doing equine therapy for almost 10 years. And he has been able to continue to make progress the last year because that therapy has continued.

“There’s very, very few things a child in a wheelchair or a walker can do, and equine therapy is just made for a child like Stephen.”

“Last week, he was able to reposition himself on the horse himself. That was a big step for him because he was able to use his core muscles and legs and move his waist over a little bit,” Rusty Windsor said.

“But the thing that was so fun for my child is they’re actually learning to ride. I mean, this is not just I am walking around like a pony ride. He is learning to ride. He goes to competitions.”

And dozens of children like Stephen have only been able to maintain what they have learned because of the consistency Pegasus has offered at a time of unprecedented inconsistency, getting by with less money and fewer people than it usually takes to operate.

“I tell you, I wish I could do this with golf carts, but it doesn’t work that way. Horses are like having a 3-year-old. They never dress themselves; they can’t tell you where it hurts, they will never feed themselves. You’re going to take care of them.”

Noonan will soon restart fundraisers and volunteer drives to take care of the horses who take such good care of children with disabilities.

“What it really does is make happiness.”

And the WTOC Community Champions at Pegasus will keep offering their therapy classes for kids who don’t have a lot of other outlets - during a health crisis or anytime.

“Savannah has got a lot of things for other disabilities and children who are mobile. But there really is almost nothing except for this type of sport. And I consider it a sport.

“We can accomplish so much more with that horse in that arena than you can in a straight therapeutic atmosphere.”

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