Steps To Your Dreams will offer hippotherapy

Working to promote a walk-a-thon for the new Steps To Your Dreams Foundation are: (from left) Ruby Nave, a physical therapist and vice-president of the Foundation; Zoe Ballard; and Amanda Deal, the Foundation’s president.

A local group is looking for volunteers to walk to raise money for a special kind of therapy that helps people who may not be able to walk on their own.

Steps to Your Dreams Foundation, based in South Charleston, is planning a “Stepping Into Tomorrow” walk-a-thon for Sept. 13 at the Clark County Fairgrounds in Springfield. Registration begins at 9 a.m. and the walk begins at 10 a.m.  

Walkers are asked to gather pledges. Additionally, event sponsorship packages are available for $2,000, $1,200 and $500. 

“All donations will be used to provide hippotherapy, trail riding, summer programs, educational programs, and family support groups for all disabled individuals of all ages in our community,” said Amanda Deal, the foundation’s president.

Horses are at the center of hippo-therapy; “hippos” is the Greek word for horse. The rhythmic movement of a walking horse improves both head and trunk stability and upper extremity function, according to a study done by researchers from the Washington University Program in Occupational Therapy.

A typical therapy session lasts 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the rider’s attention span, Deal said. Many clients are children. A session requires a horse trainer to lead the horse; two “walkers,” one on each side to protect the rider from falling off; and a therapist.  

In addition to occupational and physical therapy, hippotherapy is sometimes used in speech therapy. It is also a source of emotional healing.


“We will extend our services to individuals with terminal illnesses as well as the community to cultivate an escape from the everyday challenges in life through a serene and tranquil environment,” Deal said.

So far, 65 families have expressed interest in receiving services once the organization is up and running. The target start date is November.

Steps to Your Dreams is located on 50 acres at 6276 Plattsburg Road, South Charleston. It is a new non-profit organiza-tion established this year after two years of research. So far, the foundation has three horses, and organizers are looking for donations to buy supplies and equipment.   

Deal noted that $30 buys hay and grain to feed a horse for a month; it costs an additional $100 to board a horse; $40 buys one safety helmet for a rider.

The group also needs volunteers and people to donate new and used grooming equipment, halters, bridles, saddles, helmets, horses and feed.

A new barn, which can accommodate eight horses, will be under construction in September. It will have space for a therapy gym to be used to prepare clients before they begin hippotherapy and afterward to measure progress, said Ruby Nave, a physical therapist assistant and the foundation’s vice-president.

This school year, Nave and Deal will talk to program directors for multiple handicapped students to discuss the benefits of field trips to Step to Your Dreams. 

The general public will be able to go trail riding at the site using their personal horses or one of the organization’s trail riding horses. Fees will go to supporting the therapy services.

For details, go to or call 937-717-6741.

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