“My time at Good Hope is filled with memorable moments of riders being able to accomplish something they did not think was possible. The connection between horses and people is strong and healing.”
Brigham’s dedication to serving her community manifested at an early age; at age seven she requested books in lieu of gifts to donate to foster children at the Children’s Home Society. Her work continued into high school, where she found opportunities to “reach out to those in need,” via mission work. But it was in college that she was able to truly bring her passions to the forefront. After reaching out to Good Hope last summer, the then-college freshman soon found herself spending nearly every day there. “I have always been drawn to horses and their incredible power to heal and help people. Good Hope is an amazing organization that does just that – helps the disabled to connect and bond with horses, as well as teach able body riders how to connect, ride, and advance in their riding skills.”
Since 1999, the nonprofit has dedicated itself to offering “array of innovative programs serving more than 400 underserved Miami-Dade County residents annually,” and has served as the only Premier Accredited Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship, International facility within the Miami-Dade and Monroe counties since 2001. In addition to lessons, the center works with people of various ages and disabilities to find cognitive, social, physical and emotional changes via riding. “I personally know what horses can do to help people overcome obstacles,” says Brigham, who now trains new volunteers under the direction of Executive Director, Peggy Bass. “This center’s welcoming and positive atmosphere, along with incredible staff, makes this all possible.”
A Special Bond
Benefits including improvements in balance, posture, coordination, reflexes, fine and gross motor skills, and hand-eye coordination are well-known in equine therapy, and participants not only ride but groom and feed the horses, developing patience and compassion toward their animals. And through all of this, says Brigham, they bond deeply with their equine partners. “One of my favorite riders is a beautiful young girl who is diagnosed with Down Syndrome,” she says. “Thanks to her weekly riding lessons on Stan the Man, she has increased her upper and lower body strength, which has helped her increase her activities in daily living within the home and school.”
As with most nonprofits, Good Hope relies heavily on donations and volunteers, including those who have riding experience and those who do not. “The community can help Good Hope Equestrian Center by becoming part of the Good Hope family – we welcome and are grateful for financial and in kind donations, as well as anyone who would like to volunteer their time,” says Brigham, who hopes to help bring more awareness of Good Hope’s work to the South Florida community. “My hope is that anyone and everyone can experience the powerful, healing connection between people and horses.