A letter from Jessica

Dear Forward Stride,

Six years ago, pain and spasticity due to cerebral palsy made it increasingly difficult to continue my career as a registered nurse. I participated in hippotherapy and sport riding as a child and teenager, so I thought that riding again might help me improve my symptoms and avoid surgery. I checked out several local therapeutic riding programs and Forward Stride’s care for their clients and horses put me at ease. The knowledge and skills of the instructors made me confident I could achieve my goals.

Riding at Forward Stride has indeed improved my physical functioning and allowed me to continue in a demanding job. I have so far avoided surgery. Beyond that, riding has given me a sense of accomplishment both in how much I have improved as a rider and in how I have persevered when things didn’t go well. The honest feedback of the horses showed me more effectively than anything else the importance of bringing a calm and positive attitude to any situation. (Thank you, Buster!)

The quality that has long impressed me most about Forward Stride is the inclusivity. I have ridden in classes alongside disabled and non-disabled riders. We were all just people astride our horses, looking to improve at something we loved. Diagnoses or other labels didn’t count for much. Such opportunities aren’t easily found, and I am deeply grateful to all of the staff, volunteers, donors and horses who make this community possible.


Jessica Kiley