Lilley’s Lessons Scholarship Fund
Lilley’s Lessons was established to keep equine-assisted activities and therapies accessible to all children with special needs, regardless of their ability to pay.
Lilley has been riding at MTR since she was 9 years old. She has an undiagnosed degenerative genetic disorder which affects many of her body’s activities such as balance, movement, talking, eating and other vital functions.
After many trials with other therapies, Maryland Therapeutic Riding became a cornerstone of her parent’s efforts to support Lilley. They tell us that their MTR experience gives them a special opportunity to communicate and create meaningful connections with their daughter. The work she does on her equine therapist helps slow the decline Lilley experiences as a result of her disease. Often, the stories of her sessions carry them through the week.
Equine Assisted Therapies and Activities are scientifically proven to create, rehabilitate and strengthen pathways in the brain. But, much like a paintbrush without an artist, these therapies don’t heal by themselves. The instructors, therapists and volunteers that dedicate their talents and time to our riders are the ones that make the magic happen at MTR.
In that spirit, Nancy Spiesman, one of Lilley’s side walkers and MTR Board Member, created a scholarship that celebrates the extraordinary bond between the rider and her team. It is her hope that this scholarship will keep equine assisted therapies accessible to all children.
Nancy started this scholarship in memory of her father, Jim Spiesman, who passed away in April 2013.
Horses in Motion for MS Scholarship Fund
The Horses in Motion for MS Scholarship Fund was established at Maryland Therapeutic Riding, Inc. in 2017 through a generous gift from Dr. Mira Lessick, a horse owner with multiple sclerosis (MS). Dr. Lessick was inspired by the magical healing powers of her beloved horse in helping overcome mobility challenges, improve physical functioning, enhance emotional well-being, and maintain independence in daily activities.
The Horses in Motion for MS Scholarship provides financial assistance to adults over age 18 with multiple sclerosis who do not have the financial resources to participate in therapeutic riding, hippotherapy, or equine-facilitated psychotherapy.
Dr. Lessick experienced first-hand the positive influence that riding a horse has on the body, mind, and spirit of individuals affected with MS. MS is a disease in which the insulating covers of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord are damaged. This damage disrupts the ability of parts of the nervous system to communicate, resulting in a range of symptoms, examples of which include fatigue, walking difficulty, muscle spasticity, and cognitive and emotional changes. Use of the horse and horse’s movements help to relieve and modify such symptoms and improve the quality of life of individuals.
Horses in Motion for MS Scholarship funds are having a major impact as a much- needed community resource and making an important difference in the lives of individuals and their families.
Equine Services for Heroes Scholarship Fund
In 2009 MTR implemented “Equine Services for Heroes”. With significant success found utilizing horses to assist in the rehabilitation and healing of those with physical, cognitive and emotional needs, we wanted the honor of providing these impactful services to those who have bravely served our country. Our goal was to provide high quality and professional equine-based activities and therapies at no cost to active military and veterans who had been injured in the line of duty.
Since 2009, MTR has served over 250 veterans, military personnel, and their families by providing equine-assisted activities and therapies at no cost. Participant’s in the program have experienced a variety of positive impacts including improved strength, balance, and mobility. The emotional benefits of our services have been just as great, if not greater. Participants and families noted a decrease in anxiety and depression and a significant increase in confidence, self-acceptance, and patience after joining our program.
MTR’s goal is to continue and expand our services for veterans and military personnel so more individuals and families can experience the healing power of horses. A quote from one of our service members that participated in therapeutic riding: “It’s real hard explaining what being in combat did to me; it’s like I’ll always be at war. Coming to MTR gives me pleasure and the positive effects last way beyond my ride…my whole family feels it. The program has changed my life.” Anonymous Wounded Warrior Participant