Reaching out to help others is the life mission of Meggan Hill-McQueeney. When Meggan was very young, her father put her on a pony hoping to get her to wear and use her prosthetic arm. This early intervention enabled Meggan, who was born without a right arm, to become fully functional with her prosthesis. She went on to ride competitively throughout her youth.
After learning how horse therapy helped another child — a boy with Down’s Syndrome — Meggan realized how her father had pioneered therapeutic riding with her, years before it was recognized. This inspired her to pursue a career in horse therapy and join Bravehearts Therapeutic Riding Center in Illinois as their President and COO with a mission of “bringing hope, joy and unlimited possibilities through the healing power of the horse.”
How Bonding with Horses Helps Us Heal
In this interview, Dr. Nancy describes how her relationship with horses helped her heal in the last few years and the bond she feels with her horses. Meggan explains that developing a relationship with horses helps people adapt their own behavior to become more productive with other people. She elaborates about how horses pick up on anxiety and become restless. In their Wounded Warriors Program, therapists can use this to quiet a vet’s mind and create awareness of how to relate both to the horse and other people.
Difference between Hippotherapy and Therapeutic Riding
Meggan describes the difference between hippotherapy and therapeutic riding. Hippotherapy, based on the Greek word for horse, uses a horse to accomplish the goals of a licensed therapist, who may work in a variety of disciplines. The focus is to improve the person’s ability to function in their every day environment. The horse’s multi-dimensional movement helps them strengthen their core and control their body.
Therapeutic riding, in contrast, is done to help achieve competitive goals. Bravehearts hosts the Special Olympics. Equestrian teams with cognitive impairment come from all over to compete in front of large crowds. Meggan says they work hard all year to compete in this venue; they receive medals and are rewarded for their excellence.
Find Out More
Meggan says it takes 130 volunteers every week to run Bravehearts, which is a 501c3 corporation. Check out their website, www.braveheartsriding.org to see the opportunities and more about their programs. And be sure to listen to the wonderful stories about people who benefit from horse therapy in this amazing interview.