Written by Brian Cute, CEO of Public Interest Registry
Horses heal. I have understood for some time that horses can connect with humans in ways that few animals do and my recent visit to an inspiring .org user opened my eyes to the benefits and impacts of that special connection between horse and human. On May 24, the Public Interest Registry team and I spent the day at The Loudoun Therapeutic Riding Foundation to see for ourselves the impact of their mission and how they use the Internet and their .org address – www.ltrf.org. In fact, we were also there as volunteers dressed in jeans, boots and T-shirts to learn how to properly muck out horse stalls.
Loudoun Therapeutic Riding Foundation’s mission statement is: “empowering and improving the lives of people with cognitive, physical and psychological disabilities through the benefits of equine-assisted activities and therapies while serving the equine services industry through education and training.” They have several programs designed to deliver specific therapeutic health benefits to people in need. Like so many not-for-profits, Loudoun Therapeutic Riding Foundation relies on volunteers to help them offer life changing services. Over 500 volunteers help them each year to clean stalls, maintain their facilities and support the horses. Many of those volunteers are “walkers” who accompany the horses and the mentally or physically challenged riders who come to connect with a horse and heal. Some of those receiving services are veterans who suffer Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). With a horse, they learn how to connect and build trust again – the building blocks for healthy re-engagement with their community. Some have cognitive issues or autism and are learning to develop communication skills (spoken and unspoken) and to gain confidence in themselves that can improve their quality of life.
Over the course of the day, I was fortunate to observe two different riders, working with their respective horses, actively developing their own skills and reflecting the unique spoken and unspoken relationship between horse and rider. Knowing the challenges that each rider has worked to overcome through the years, it was truly incredible to witness.
Loudoun Therapeutic Riding Foundation is working with other organizations to develop data that can prove the specific health benefits delivered by the work between horse and rider so that one day these services may be more broadly available through health care coverage and available to more people in need. Like so many not-for-profits, they rely on donations from the public and from benefactors to provide these extraordinary services at reduced or no fees when possible. They use their .org website www.ltrf.org to tell their story, to attract volunteers and donors to support the horses and those who receive services. Here are a few stories from people who have been touched by the horses. Have a look and see if you aren’t equally moved.
All in all, we had an inspiring day and got a bit dirty cleaning out stalls in two barns as our volunteer contribution to a great cause. And we are so proud to do our small part by providing a trusted and secure .org platform on the Internet for Loudoun Therapeutic Riding Foundation and millions of other not-for-profits who work to change the world for the better.