Healing Touch Therapeutic Riding Center

 A Non-Profit Organization


The pathway to Healing

Post Date: March 16, 2015

My son Scotty was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, high functioning Autism , at the age of 4. Thus my family began the longest journey of our lives. Navigating through the world of autism can sometimes seem very daunting. I am always looking for positive therapies, activities and friendships that will enhance my son's life. When he turned 6 a friend of mine informed me she had won six horsebackriding therapy lessons from Healing Touch Riding Center and would I like Scotty to use the lessons. I said yes and it was one of the best decisions  I have ever made!

Scotty has been a student at Healing Touch for 4 years. It has been truly amazing to watch the growth both emotionally and physically that the instructors and volunteers at Healing Touch have accomplished with my son over the years. When he first started at the age of 6 his fine motor skills were so weak he could barely hold a pencil much less write his name. Now at the age of 10 he can not only write his name, but whole paragraphs as well!  His teacher and classroom aide attributed this success to the types of therapy Scotty has been receiving at Healing Touch.  Scotty also has trouble focusing and controlling certain behaviors both at school and at home due to his ADHD diagnosis.  While he does take medication to help with this, Healing Touch has played a huge role in helping him understand how to control himself and focus on his school and homework.  Because his instructors over the years have been showing him how to give the horse commands and control its movements Scotty is learning to control himself, thus virtually eliminating the meltdowns that had been frequently occurring at home and school.  He is also learning empathy, kindness and friendship skills.  His favorite horse is Finnegan and when his instructor shows him how to take care of Finnegan and be responsible for his care, Scotty is learning to take responsibility for his friendships at school too.

Another issue Scotty deals with on a daily basis is his poor muscle tone which is very common in children with Asperger's.  At his yearly physical, his doctor made a point of telling me how much his muscle tone has improved over the years. He is stronger and his gate is not as awkward.  She firmly believes that the changes in Scotty's muscle tone and gate are a direct benefit of his time at Healing Touch. While these are things most parents can take for granted, those of us who have children with Autism cherish every positive step forward they accomplish.

Finally, Healing Touch has become like family to us. The instructors and volunteers at Healing Touch continually show Scotty love, kindness and caring in a non-judgmental environment that allows him to continue to thrive, learn and grow. I am so grateful and blessed that we found Healing Touch.  While Scotty has grown leaps and bounds these past years, the journey is not yet complete and I know Healing Touch will be there with Scotty and our family every step of the way!

Please help by Sponsoring a Rider


Scotty & Finnegan

Samantha & Shark

Zan &Kristine Bates

Posted Date: September 9, 2012

I wanted to write and tell you how happy we are to have found you and your therapeutic riding program. Since Ryan started taking horseback riding lessons at Healing Touch this past September, we have seen such a change in him. For a child like Ryan, with Asperger’s Syndrome and Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), just going to school every day, attending church on Sundays or even something as enjoyable at another child’s birthday party can be overwhelming and stressful for Ryan. But when we watch him with the horses, both in lessons and just hanging around the barn, we see a “peacefulness” on his face that we don’t see in any other setting. He absolutely loves the horses, especially Finnegan, and all of the wonderful volunteers that we have met. I have seen his empathy increase and he has been very focused over the last several months, not to mention the fact that he made the Principal’s Honor Roll with straight A’s for the first school quarter.

We have tried many activities with Ryan, such as soccer, karate, golf and even art classes; but he has never taken to any of them like he has riding.

Having the barn to go to every Saturday morning is such a treat for Ryan. He never wants to skip a lesson and is always disappointed if we get rained out. I really believe that your program has made a lasting difference in his life and I hope we can continue with you for a very long time.

Testimonials  from our Rider's Families

Denise Bell

Posted Date: September 9, 2012

My daughter, Samantha, has been involved with Healing Touch Therapeutic Riding Center in St. Cloud since August of 2011. I have spent many years trying to find activities that Samantha would enjoy and would also be something that would help her with her self-confidence.

Let me back up a little, Samantha was born with Mosaic Down Syndrome. She has been in ESE (Exceptional Special Education) classes all of her life. Our family lost her father, my husband seven years ago and since then, she has struggled to find her way. As a family we always took vacations to the mountains because we loved to ride horses.

When a friend mentioned Healing Touch, Samantha immediately wanted to check it out. Now for Samantha to get excited about doing something, instead of saying, “nah, I would rather stay home and watch TV” that said to me this was what I had been looking for. The first time she went to the Center, she was hooked! Chris, Mary and all the volunteers welcomed her with open arms. They worked with Samantha based on her abilities, allowed her to move at her own pace, all the while giving her encouragement when they knew that she could move to the next level.

Samantha has now been coming to the Center since September of 2011. She looks forward to it every week. I have seen much improvement in her posture, her attention span and most importantly the smile on her face every time she goes to put on her boots and t-shirt!!
As the parent of a special needs child, I appreciate all that Chris, Mary and the volunteers have done to help bring Samantha out of the shell that she built around herself after her father’s passing. She now is happier, more active and no longer afraid to try whatever Chris has in store for her every week.
The Riding Center has been God sent for Samantha and I am sure, if given the opportunity, your child would enjoy the experience and the wonderful staff.

Tracy Dunlap, Guidance Counselor, Osceola High School

Posted Date: September 9, 2012

My son Scotty is a six year old boy who was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome at the age of four. As a result of his diagnosis he has severe fine motor skill delays, muscle tone problems and ADHD symptoms. This has caused him to have behavioral problems both at home and at school.

For many months my husband and I searched for and tried many types of therapies. Then one day at a local event to raise awareness for Autism Spectrum Disorders, we won a certificate for Healing Touch Therapeutic Horseback Riding. From the very first lesson I could tell my son was hooked. My husband and I have seen his confidence soar and his behavior begin to improve. As I watch him ride his horse, Finnegan, it is obvious how much his posture and muscle tone has improved after just 10 lessons. He sits straight and tall, focused and eager to learn.

This has been a wonderful experience for both Scotty and us. The therapist and volunteers who have worked with Scotty are the most caring and giving people. They are so supportive of Scotty. He looks forward to his sessions every week. It is amazing to watch my son grow and improve in so many ways thanks to the work of everyone at Healing Touch.