A Little Time and a Keyboard: "Best Days Happen Here" Learn about the Fantastic Work At Equestrian Connection in Lake Forest, Illinois

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

"Best Days Happen Here" Learn about the Fantastic Work At Equestrian Connection in Lake Forest, Illinois

"Best Days Happen Here" Learn about the Fantastic Work At Equestrian Connection in Lake Forest, Illinois

Equestrian Connection Creates a Warm and Supportive Environment Helping Those with Cognitive, Emotional and Physical Impairments

"Best Days Happen Here!" Equestrian Connection's motto really encapsulates what happens at the center. Located in Lake Forest, Illinois, Equestrian Connection provides a crucial service for children and adults with cognitive, emotional and physical impairments. Recently, I visited the center and left totally amazed with the incredible work done there. Equestrian Connection is one of those places where you can truly see and feel the heart of our community.

Therapeutic Riding Instructor Betsy Hamburg kindly guided me on a tour of the Equestrian Connection's facility and provided me with so much insight about the programs offered. Immediately, I could feel the love and compassion flowing through the center. I was pretty surprised by the size of the center overall. We visited with many of the horses at Equestrian Connection.

Elegant and graceful Lady and Molly did not mind that I was visiting!
Elegant and graceful Lady and Molly did not mind that I was visiting!

Visiting with Equestrian Connection's Family of Horses

As we visited with Equestrian Connection's family of horses, I basked in the friendliness and glee I could feel from these wonderful beings! Each horse definitely has his or her own flare of personality. Betsy explained to me that the Equine Manager and Scheduler ensure that riders are paired with the correct horse for their needs.  A centered rider rides each horse once a week as part of their down time. They also enjoy free time with their horse buddy. Horse pals are penned together based on their temperament.

Torkel enjoying a sunny day at the Equestrian Connection in Lake Forest, Illinois
Torkel enjoying a sunny day at the Equestrian Connection in Lake Forest, Illinois

Riding instructors like Betsy complete an intensive program before they are able to instruct riders in Equestrian Connection programs. Riders actually have teams that help them including occupational therapists, physical therapists, therapeutic riding instructors, leaders, sidewalkers and more. A lot of knowledge and care goes into putting together the right program and team for each rider depending on their needs. 

Adorable Dory loves to say 'hi!'
Adorable Dory loves to say 'hi!'

Impressive Array of Services

Diana Schnell co-founded the Equestrian Connection in 2001. She is the mother of disabled twins and has seen the benefits of hippotherapy firsthand. She witnessed how working with horses in a therapeutic setting helped adults and children with special needs develop emotionally, physically and socially. With Equestrian Connection, she shares the benefits of equine therapy to families in need of these life changing services. Since its founding, Equestrian Connection has been able to help thousands of children and adults.

While visiting, I learned that Equestrian Connection programs also include other services including massage therapy and expressive arts. Equestrian Connection has physical therapists, occupational therapists, social workers, psychologists and more on staff in addition to the therapeutic riding instructors.

Equestrian Connection's Snickerdoodle munching on a sunny day!
Snickerdoodle munching on a sunny day!

A Turn About the Barn

Inside the barn, Betsy explained to me the types of activities that can be incorporated to assist with different developmental, cognitive and emotional challenges. Different apparatus can be set up so that the rider will have to negotiate obstacles. Or, perhaps the rider will be prompted to ride to a certain letter that is on the wall. Everything is carefully put together based on each rider's needs. 

Visiting the barn at Equestrian Connection in Lake Forest, Illinois
Visiting the barn at Equestrian Connection.

I visited right after repairs had been made to the roof of the barn. Whenever there is a change, it is important to reacclimate the horses. It is crucial that horses do not encounter something unexpected with a rider. I was pretty impressed by how much goes into ensuring a fantastic program for riders and how Equestrian Connection keeps track of all of these important pieces.

Helping Veterans

I learned that the center has a lovely lake that can be used by veteran's charities helping vets by providing them with emotional support and a day of connection with others and nature. The lake is fully stocked, so ideal for these events! Veterans also benefit from equine therapy at the center as well.

The tranquil lake at Equestrian Connection provides for serenity and healing during veteran's fishing programs and more.
The tranquil lake at Equestrian Connection provides for serenity and healing during veteran's fishing programs and more.

How You Can Help

Equestrian Connection works with a range of volunteers. On the day of my visit, I observed new leader and sidewalker volunteers being trained. While these are two options for volunteering, Equestrian Connection has options for an array of volunteerships including helping in the art programs, office and more. If you connect with Nancy, she is sure to find a place for you! You can call the center at 847-615-8656 and ask for Nancy to learn more.

Additionally, Equestrian Connection has some fantastic fundraisers throughout the year including the fun, upcoming Marty's Barn Celebration on October 16, 2021! The celebration will include entertainment from Chicago Blues Now. You can reserve tickets now to be part of this joyous event while supporting the work at Equestrian Connection. Donations are always welcome as well!

Roux enjoying a little drink of water!
Roux enjoying a little drink of water!


Betsy has found a wonderful way to further support Equestrian Connection. She dyes incredible yarns that she then sells to raise money for Equestrian Connection needs. I can tell you that Betsy has an eye for color and her yarns are stunning! If you knit, definitely check out Betsy's Fibers for beautiful yarn and to support a fantastic cause!

Best Days Happen Here

Equestrian Connection fulfills such an incredible role in the community by helping members with cognitive, emotional and physical impairments find connection and develop skills. During my visit, I felt enrobed with the warmth, joy and nurturing of Equestrian Center. Best days definitely happen there!

"Best Days Happen Here" Learn about the Fantastic Work At Equestrian Connection in Lake Forest, Illinois


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