Newsmakers Making A Difference: Carrie Capes, Founder Of HorsePower Therapeutic Riding

Julie Mann
April 10, 2018 - 7:42 am

Photo courtesy of HorsePower Therapeutic Riding

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Inside a barn in the small community of Maple Park, west of Chicago, people with disabilities are finding empowerment through horseback riding.   

HorsePower Therapeutic Riding was founded by Carrie Capes, who witnessed what being on horseback did for her youngest son, Max. 

Max has a condition called Complex III Deficiency Mitochondrial Metabolic Disorder which can delay motor skills and limit hearing and speech.  She said when Max was 8-years old he took his first therapeutic ride. Capes said through riding, Max developed his core strength and sense of confidence which improved his personality and approach towards life. 

"He was thoroughly enjoying what he was doing, therefore he was open to learning," Capes said.

Photo courtesy of HorsePower Therapeutic Riding

HorsePower Therapeutic Riding students are first taught how to ride by trained volunteers, side-walkers and a certified instructor. Capes said as the student shows their ability to guide themselves they are allowed to ride independently.

"Horseback riding demands a number of skills - physical, emotional and social that are all used at the same time," Capes said. 

Capes said therapeutic riding can help people of all ages with a physical, mental or developmental disability.  Right now she has a student as young as three up to seniors in their eighties and provides the benefits of therapy for people with special needs ranging from multiple sclerosis to anxiety to visual impairment.

Photo courtesy of HorsePower Therapeutic Riding

The day WBBM Newsradio visited the Fox Chase Stable, Capes was teaching a lesson to 11-year-old Rain Finney, who has been diagnosed with autism and an emotional disorder. Capes said at first she wouldn't talk to anyone or respond to questions. Now she guides a horse around the ring with commands and confidence. Alexandria Finney, Rain's mother said she has seen her daughter blossom.

"Just the self confidence. Just knowing she can work hard and do something. It's been incredible," Finney said. 

Photo courtesy of HorsePower Therapeutic Riding

Capes therapeutic riding program has 11 horses, four instructors and 55 riders. The program counts on volunteers and donations to cover equipment and student scholarships. 

"We don't want a financial burden to stop people from benefiting from this type of therapy," she said.

As WBBM celebrates its 50th anniversary as Newsradio, this year we’ll be honoring 50 Newsmakers making a difference in the community.  Listen for reports each Tuesday.

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