Destini Morgan, 10, pets miniature horse Snoopy on Friday at the home of Lexie Myers north of Clovis. Morgan, who suffers from a seizure disorder, has been riding with Mini Blessings for three years. (Staff photo: Eric Kluth)
By Tony Parra: Freedom Newspapers
A Clovis-based non-profit organization which tries to help children with disabilities in Roosevelt and Curry Counties wants to see if there is a way to get funding through the city of Portales.
Mini Blessings, a non-profit organization which offers horse-riding therapy for disabled children and some adults, has been in operation for more than two years. Lexie Meyers and Kathy Stallings of Mini Blessings provide horses, sometimes miniature horses, for the children to ride. Since they work on a volunteer basis and through donations, it’s getting harder for them to provide the free service, Meyers said.
Meyers said the cost of transporting, feeding and grooming the horses is making it tough to offer horse-riding to the children.
Lisa Walker, a Dora resident, spoke about Mini Blessings to Ron Jackson, who works at the Portales National Bank. Walker told Jackson, who is also a city councilor and chairman of the recreation board, about how the affiliation helps children with special needs.
Walker’s daughter, Sarah, has Angelman Syndrome, which is most commonly diagnosed between the ages of three and seven years, according to the Angelman Syndrome Foundation Inc. Web site. Those who are suffering have an absence of speech, excessive laughter and seizures.
“We don’t have anything for these kids (in Portales),” Walker said. “Many of them can’t participate in sports. Many times they just go to therapy after school. I wish we had something for them here.”
Sarah is an eighth-grader at Dora Consolidated Schools. Lisa said she purchased a quarter-horse gelding, Freckles, for her daughter. Lisa said Sarah is treated like any other member of the family and helps her brother, 10-year-old Joshua, with ranch work and gathering up cattle.
“It’s (Mini Blessings) such a good thing,” Walker said. “If you could just watch the kids when they are with their horses, you could see how much they enjoy it. Sarah loves riding horses. She can do something anybody else can do. It’s such a gift to those kids.”
Meyers said Roosevelt County officials have allowed her to bring horses to the Roosevelt County Fairgrounds so the children can ride them there. Meyers said she would like to collaborate with Portales Schools District administrators on a “Farm Day” for children to ride the horses, rope and enjoy farm-related activities.
Meyers said they have riding sessions from Monday through Thursday. She said some community members offer their horses for the program.
Jennifer Faust said her son, Bret, has benefited a great deal from Mini Blessings. Faust said her son, a Portales High School student, enjoys riding the horses. Faust said her son has trouble talking because of his illness.
“It gives him a sense of freedom,” Faust said. “He moves more and talks more when he’s around the horses. I think it’s wonderful for all of the kids. It helps with their mobility.”
Faust said Bret has participated and has ridden a horse in the Special Olympics state competition which is held in Clovis each year.
Jackson said an option for the Mini Blessings volunteers is to go through a process similar to what the Portales Skatepark Organization members are going through. That group is working with the city to build a new skate park. Portales Recreation Director Johnny Ledbetter is helping the organization with grant-writing to get funding.
Meyers said many of the children who ride the horses have trouble speaking. However, she said sometimes children from foster homes have used the program, also.
“It would be great if other kids could come out and see these kids,” Meyers said. “They need friends, too.”