EAST KINGSTON — VFW state Quartermaster Greg Lynch and VFW state Surgeon Gary Backus recently toured the Wings and Hooves Therapeutic Riding facilities to learn more about the Healing Our Heroes Hoof by Hoof Horsemanship Program.
They also engaged in some 'hands-on' work with one of the stars of the program, Mr. WiseGuy.
Wings and Hooves Therapeutic Riding Inc., a recognized 501(c3 ) non-profit organization, is at Kingswood Farm, a 169 acre farm owned by Karen and Paul Cuneo.
The program is dedicated to enhancing the lives of individuals with physical, emotional and developmental disabilities by building confidence through equine-assisted activities and partnerships, although the staff points out that the program is all about participants' abilities.
The program was incorporated in 2009. All of the facilities are fully accessible.
Kimberly Hughes, Wings and Hooves program director, said the program offers physical, psychological and social benefits to veterans who are healing from life-altering injuries or challenges.
Hughes said, "We are very excited as we move forward to serve our veteran and military servicemen and women. Either in a group setting or on an individual basis, Wings and Hooves will develop a personalized program to meet everyone's needs and goals".
Volunteers receive specialized training, along with the horses, and as they find in their other therapeutic riding instruction and horsemanship programs, progress notes will be a valuable tool to evaluate measured outcomes with this audience as well.
For Karen Cuneo, the program is the realization of a 17-year dream. She was diagnosed with Systemic Lupus 30 years ago, and since then has had three kidney transplants, while maintaining a full-time career in the financial industry and raising a daughter with special needs.
She said, "The horses really helped me through my illness, and I saw what they did for my daughter, who, despite her special needs, became a national champion. I spent a lot of time on dialysis, thinking about what I wanted to do with my life and Wings and Hooves is the result. I always wanted to teach and through the horses, I have found a way to enhance and improve the lives of children and adults with a wide variety of special needs, physical challenges and life-altering illness."
Her vision is clear: "Equine activities bring out the best in people and allow them to soar to great heights while realizing their incredible potential."
People suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or a physical injury or challenge and would benefit from the Wings and Hooves programs, and an application packet is available upon request.
For applications or answers to any questions, contact Wings and Hooves at firstname.lastname@example.org; P.O. Box 336, East Kingston, 03827;by phone at 642-3722; or via fax at 642-3707.
Visit www.wingsandhooves.org. All donations are tax deductible and would benefit these programs relying solely on community support, fundraising initiatives and volunteer participation.