Charity of the Week: Tackfully Teamed Riding Academy

Tackfully Teamed Riding Academy

Working at a therapeutic horseback riding center gives me so many inspirational stories that it is hard to choose just one. So I decided to write about a volunteer/rider that participated in the ACTHA competitive trail ride last April at Dogwood Farm in Axton, VA. Michael Netherton began volunteering at Tackfully Teamed Riding Academy, Inc. a year and a half ago. He is an intelligent and very hard working man but he was forced to retire early because he has early onset of Alzheimer’s disease. As he entered the moderate stage of the disease, he could no longer continue to work at his demanding job, so he became a daily volunteer for Tackfully Teamed. The first thing I noticed about him was no matter what job you gave him, he did it to perfection. He took pride in everything he did, even cleaning stalls, but he could not remember simple two step directions. I had very little patience at first, because I felt like I did not have time to watch him or retrain him each day. Then I began to see a very kind sensitive person emerging. The riders, volunteers, parents, and even the horses loved him. I began to realize that his lack of short term memory did not deter his innate sensitivity to others. I started having him work horses for the center. He exhibited a natural relaxed way mounted or on the ground. I also noticed that his short term memory showed a marked improvement after he rode a horse. Gradually, Michael began to make his short term memory of the center long term memory. He became a vital part of the staff and volunteer force at Tackfully Teamed. Last April, Michael participated in the ACTHA competitive trail ride and won one of the obstacles in his division. He was so excited, he wants to compete again next year. He continues to struggle with his short term memory every day. Even though he assumes his future is bleak, he shows up each day with a smile on his face, and a positive attitude. Michael appears to turn his fears inward as he grabs life and lives it. He does not do this just for himself, but for his family, friends, and each and every rider with a disability here at the center. Tackfully Teamed hopes Michael will be around for a long time. He has an important job here, and he does it well.

Susan Warren
Director of Tackfully Teamed Riding Academy
Visit our website at www.tackfullyteamed.com

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