Commentary by Brad Thompson
Each fall, Christ Lutheran Church in Zionsville organizes a Day of Service, during which congregation members are sent to work with area charities and serve the community. This year, one of those charities was Morning Dove Therapeutic Riding, a nonprofit group offering equine-assisted activities and therapy services to children and adults with physical, cognitive, behavioral and/or emotional disabilities.
Specifically among its services Morning Dove offers hippotherapy in partnership with St. Vincent Pediatric Rehabilitation Services. Hippotherapy means treatment with the help of a horse.
An occupational, physical or speech therapist uses the horse’s movement to help clients improve postural strength, range of motion, endurance and ability to concentrate and follow instructions. In hippotherapy, the horse influences the client rather than the client controlling the horse as in therapeutic riding.
Morning Dove also offers a broad array of equine-facilitated learning programs, including workshops, field trips, camps and semester long programs. In 2017, Morning Dove introduced its newest program, Lead Changes, serving at-risk youth in the community. Morning Dove also participates in Indiana Special Olympics, which offers equestrian sports training and athletic competition.
When the Christ Lutheran Church members volunteered at Morning Dove, the task was to clean the horse stalls and provide fresh food and water to each. The work wasn’t glamorous, and gloves were probably a good idea. But the church members did it with good cheer and much sweat.