BOSTON (WBZ-AM) -- Each month, “WBZ Cares” highlights a worthy non-profit organization and tells the story of what that organization does for the community. This month WBZ is profiling Strongwater Farm Therapeutic Equestrian Center in Tewksbury, MA that helps individuals with disabilities and mental health issues.
M.J. Marcucci founded the Strongwater Farm Therapeutic Equestrian Center in 1997 while serving as a volunteer for the Tewksbury Hospital board of trustees. She started holding horse shows on the acres of land the hospital sits on as a way to get patients outside, enjoying nature.
“Even though they’re on this beautiful property they did not get an opportunity to really see and enjoy the land. What we did was we started those small events and then found out how therapeutic they were. We looked into equine therapy and the rest is really history”, Marcucci stated.
Marcucci went on to explain the center’s mission, “…to enhance the lives of individuals through equine therapy”.
Operations Director Patti Lessard says their therapy horses are hand-picked because of their calm and intuitive natures. These gentle giants help people emotionally by boosting their confidence and helping to teach them about calm and relaxation. Individuals with autism, M.S., and other conditions that limit their mobility are also helped physically by the horses.
“The movement from the horse’s rotation in their hips impacts the hip movement of our riders. Though it simulates the walk gait, also it’s attaching to the central nervous system. Your synopsis in the brain are all firing off because the stimulation from the spine-on-spine, the person’s spine connecting with the horse’s spine, it triggers all those little spark plugs in the brain. That’s why we find the successes that we do. There’s so many things happening with each lesson,” Lessard explained.
Lessard says it is incredibly healing when individuals with disabilities develop close bonds with their twelve horses, known affectionately as “the herd.” She stated, “Individuals that weren’t walking that now are walking. Folks that had challenges with speech, their vocabulary and way of communicating, their social skills have developed through the horses.”
WBZ NewsRadio1030's Kim Tunnicliffe Reports