Animals are known to be beneficial to mental health, which has resulted in a Durham woman to launch a fundraiser to get a group of youngsters out on the range.
Meghan Ney’s had a life-long passion for horses, and has started riding two years ago.
“The minute I set foot in the barn I fell in love,” said Ney, organizer of Own Your Story fundraiser.
Ney says she struggles with anxiety, and riding three times a week has helped to manage her symptoms.
“It’s been a sanity saver for me,” Ney said.
As it has done so much to help her, Ney imagined what it could do for kids.
This caused Ney to launch Own Your Story, a fundraiser with all the proceeds going to the Durham Children’s Aid Foundation.
“The cost of lessons could be a big barrier to access, and I wanted to find a way to try and open up the magic of horses to kids who could really benefit from it the most,” Ney said.
“Oh I think it will be life changing,” said Dennis Ullman, Durham children’s aid foundation executive director.
Ullman says they’ve had requests for therapeutic horseback riding in the past, but the funds haven’t been there.
“This just provides another way for them to be able to deal with situations they didn’t sign up for quite frankly, so whatever we can do to try and insure that no child is left behind is always what we’re working through every day,” said Ullman.
Ney’s goal is to raise $3,000, which would allow 10 children to take one month of lessons each, and the more they raise the more kids can ride.
She’s already at $2,000 from the sales of Own Your Story clothing, a silent auction and monetary donations.
Several riding barns around Durham Region have gotten on board, including Lake House Stables.
“These horses, they don’t judge anybody,” said Dawn O’Neill, barn manager at Lake House Stables.
O’Neill’s been running the stables for the past six years, and see’s first hand what being around horses does for people.
“It’s a complete escape. You go from like suburbia and you come into here and it’s completely different, you’re surrounded by wilderness, there’s nature everywhere, it’s not just the horses it’s a getaway,” said O’Neill.
As for Ney, she’s hoping the peace she feels riding will be shared with the children who get the opportunity to grab the reins.
“There are so many things you can learn both in and out of the saddle,” Ney said.