The staff at Sunflower Diversified Services assumed it would be a popular new service for their clients with developmental disabilities and delays. They assumed right.
The non-profit agency has contracted with Healing Hearts Ranch, which is offering its Adopt-a-Horse program to Sunflower clients.
“This is yet another way we can add to the many options we offer to people,” said Amanda Urban, Sunflower training/advocacy coordinator. “We started this new program a short while ago and at least a dozen people took advantage of it early on.
“There is little doubt the numbers will grow,” Urban continued. “Everyone involved is enjoying it and telling their friends they need to get involved too. Some are already making repeat visits to the ranch for the social aspect, as well as the interaction with the horses.”
The Adopt-a-Horse program benefits anyone who wants to ride, care for, groom and/or just spend time with horses, said Scott Stinemetz, Healing Hearts owner.
“First and foremost,” Stinemetz explained, “horses are very sensitive to what people are saying on the inside. As an equine specialist, I see every day how horses communicate with people.
“A person may say one thing but the horse might be saying something different with his body language,” he added. “We are able to process that and use it to the client’s benefit.”
Stinemetz also echoed some of Urban’s comments about how much Sunflower clients are enjoying this new opportunity.
“It is obvious they really like it and enjoy coming out,” Stinemetz said. “We appreciate Sunflower’s commitment to helping their clients enhance their enjoyment and quality of life.
“We have seen first-hand Sunflower’s drive to provide additional services and opportunities for people’s growth and independence,” he added. “All of us are grateful for what they are doing for people with developmental disabilities.”
Sunflower serves infants, toddlers and adults in Barton, Pawnee, Rice, Rush and Stafford counties.
Healing Hearts Ranch is located at 155 SE 1 Ave.; its mission is to offer the best equine therapy program available to children and families who face emotional and behavioral challenges, Stinemetz said. Other programs include equine-assisted learning, parenting classes, marriage enrichment classes and mentorship.