Toegether We Can Make This Happen
All of us at Miracles are looking forward to a return to training volunteers and holding adaptive riding (formerly therapeutic riding) classes in 2021! Since at this time (late January) we don’t know when it will feel safe to bring groups to the farm, we will look to start with small groups of volunteers. We encourage everyone that can to get vaccinated as soon as they are able and to wear masks (both at the farm and whenever in contact with others). Together we can make this happen!
December Giving Ideas
Looking for a meaningful gift for the horse-lover in your life? Consider adopting one of our therapy horses – the adoption fee is $100/month. Check out which horses are available.
2021 calendars featuring Miracles horses are available. See article below for details.
Donations through the end of the year will have double the impact!
You can also make a donation to Miracles to honor a friend or a memorial donation. Donations now through the end of the year will be matched, doubling the impact on the lives of children and adults with special needs and veterans. Learn about one of our riders and summer Zoom students, Cooper, and hear from his mom what Miracles has meant to him.
Finally, if you would like to do something special for our horses or students, consider our 2020 wish list.
From all of us at Miracles in Motion, thank you for your support in 2020; we look forward to seeing you at the farm in 2021!
It Has Been a Learning Year: Giving Tuesday
The challenges of 2020 cannot be understated. But out of those challenges, we have developed new ways of communicating, had time to reflect on what is next for Miracles, and learned what Derecho means!
One of the advantages of working with therapeutic riding students online through our Zoom classes, is they can participate in the classes even when they are on vacation. The instructor, Diana, was so pleased to get a postcard from Cooper when he was vacationing with his family. And he was still able to sign in for that week’s Zoom class!
Giving Tuesday is a great time for us to recognize how much Miracles has been given this year – in addition to learning how to incorporate videos into our communication with students, parents, volunteers, and the interested public, we learned that even in times of stress, our supporters are still so generous! We also learned that support sometimes comes from unlikely sources – a group of “cowgirls” who had a rodeo after learning how to back up a horse trailer, a Minnesota Half-Arabian Horse Association looking to help a nonprofit after the Derecho, an Arizona therapeutic riding center closing its doors.
We are again asking for the support of those who can – many of our costs do not change despite not being able to welcome students to the farm, except in individual family groups. In addition to finishing our fundraising to enhance the experience for our riders through three capital projects, we still need to feed the horses, maintain fences, and complete the myriad tasks it takes to run a 76-acre farm.
For more information on Cooper’s experience (above: Cooper haltering Jet; Cooper outside riding Aspen) with our online classes, head over to our donation page. You can also see photos on our website of the enclosed Pavilion and construction progress on the new “front door” to the arena. Thank you for your continued support of Miracles!
ALL DONATIONS BETWEEN NOW AND THE END OF THE YEAR WILL BE DOUBLED!
Aspen not only remembered Cooper, but he also really enjoyed the grooming session that followed the online learning about “the Miracles way” to groom one of our therapy horses.
It goes without saying that 2020 has been a challenge for everyone including Miracles in Motion. But, as is often the case, out of adversity comes growth. Providing therapeutic riding classes virtually isn’t intuitive, but our intrepid PATH instructor, Diana Harris, and willing volunteers, Tracy Kolosik and Nikole Tutton, made it work. Diana and Tracy recorded videos for access by our students so they could learn about all that happens before a horse is brought up to the mounting block for classes. These videos will also prove invaluable to reinforce “the Miracles way” for our volunteer training.
After the students had a chance to view the videos, zoom classes were scheduled with 2-3 therapeutic riding students at a time. Each 4-week series of classes covered one topic. The material – haltering, leading, grooming, tacking, etc. – was demonstrated in real time and students could ask and answer questions to facilitate understanding. After completion of each unit the students were offered the opportunity to practice what they had learned, one at a time, at the farm. This hands-on session was so rewarding for the students, parents, and volunteers. The enthusiasm was contagious. It was so wonderful to again have students and therapy horses together!
In talking with Cooper and his mom, Becky, she mentioned that the day before the session, Cooper would say, “I can’t wait to tell Diana something tomorrow!” And we at Miracles can’t wait to have all our therapeutic riding students and hippotherapy riders back at Miracles!
We would appreciate your help in continuing to provide those with special needs the chance to connect with our volunteers, other students and our wonderful horses. Donate here and hear Becky's comments about Cooper and Miracles.
BSA Horsemanship Merit Badge
In an environment of pandemic setbacks, Miracles in Motion has launched a new program in cooperation with the Hawkeye Area Council, Boy Scouts of America, to provide differently abled Scouts with the opportunity to earn their Horsemanship Merit Badge.
“The Horsemanship Merit Badge is largely an independent program, driven by the Scouts themselves. Our program addresses the first nine requirements and checks the Scout’s knowledge in a virtual setting” said Nikole Tutton, vice president and merit badge counselor at Miracles in Motion. “Then, we work on the hands-on and riding conditions until the scouts are proficient and have completed all the requirements to achieve the Merit Badge.”
The Horsemanship Merit Badge requires Scouts to be tested on general equine knowledge, safety, horse care, and basic horse anatomy. For the hands-on part of the requirements, candidates learn to tack, groom, saddle, and bridle a horse, then lead, mount and dismount, and ride independently at a walk and trot.
Virtual classes are nothing new to Miracles. Many students have learned how to groom and tack horses in online classes offered during the pandemic.
“It’s a great way to keep students engaged and interested in horses during a tough time,” said Lois James, president of Miracles board of directors. “It also keeps our volunteers engaged and motivated because seeing the students grow and flourish is what it is all about. Online classes also have the advantage of being offered year-round, which is something our students and families have expressed interested in.”
If you are interested in this program, or would like to have someone come and speak to your scout troop, please email email@example.com.
PT Days of Caring at Miracles
In October and November two groups of physical therapy students from the University of Iowa came to Miracles for work days. They worked hard and accomplished several things:
- Cleaned out the new pavilion
- Winterized the sensory trail
- Reassembled round pen panels to protect the new trees
- Painted the ground poles white so they don't blend in with the sand; taping colors on the poles
- Took down and stored stall fans placed them in storage
- Trimmed the gardens and mulched the flower beds
- Put up snow fence
- Cleaned the pond on the sensory trail
- Cleaned up planks and nails in the hay barn
Thanks for all that work.
Virtual Boo at the Barn
All of us at Miracles miss seeing you at the farm for Boo at the Barn, but hope you enjoy our horses on parade in their fun costumes!
See all the horses in costume.
Don't miss Jackie reading Cat in the Hat in a separate video.
Vote for your favorite horse and costume.
Thanks to our Boo sponsors.
We look forward to seeing you in person in 2021!
We are very excited to take the first step in building a new “front door” to the Miracles arena. The first step was removing the existing concrete. Our thanks to property manager, Nick Andeway, and volunteer, Bruce Guyer, for taking a weekend to break up and relocate the existing concrete with the help of a Bobcat. Bruce’s comment after two long days was “I’m never operating a Bobcat again!”
We are within $10,000 of raising our goal of $100,000 for this project as well as enclosing the pavilion and resurfacing the driveway. We need your help to take us over the top (and a bit more as construction costs have risen). For more information on what the project entails, read the article below "Blaze a Path Forward."
Donate can donate here. And thank you.
Blaze a Path Forward
Blaze, our oldest therapy horse, is leading the way into 2021. See him running in the photo below. Check out the plans for our addition to the arena and learn more about upcoming projects at Miracles.
Miracles is using 2020 as a time to make changes we think can improve our riders’ experience in 2021 and beyond. We have the support of The Hall Perrine Foundation to add an addition on to our arena (a new “front door”) and enclose the Pavilion to make it more useable. We will also be resurfacing the driveway. Check out the arena plans, a fact sheet on the projects and learn about supporting our efforts…
The August 10th Derecho
We learned a new word this week: derecho. And we learned how to manage without power, which resulted in no fresh water. Our volunteers helped clean up the shingles, branches, and other debris that the winds deposited in pastures and around the house. On Thursday Camryn and Kira filled a 300-gallon water tank at the Swisher Fire Department, and then filled a couple water tanks for our thirsty horses. Thanks, everyone.
June 26, 2020 – When we updated you in April about Miracle’s approach to the coronavirus pandemic, we thought that by summer, we would have a clear-cut path forward to resuming classes. Unfortunately, that has not been the case, particularly with the recent increase in cases in Linn and Johnson counties. Our Reopening Committee has met to strategize what steps we need to take when we are comfortable to reopen. We have ordered face shields, masks, gloves, hand sanitizers, an additional hand washing station, distancing posters, and a thermometer all to be prepared for when it feels safe to again hold in-person classes.
At the beginning of June we started Zoom online classes for small groups of therapeutic riding students. The students watch videos describing what happens before their horse enters the arena for them to begin class. There are also handouts that have worksheets and examples of proper footwear, grooming tools, treats, etc. After watching the videos, our PATH instructor, Diana Harris, holds the Zoom class and participants are taken through the steps to get a horse ready for class in an interactive format. Our instructor-in-training Nikole Tutton is doing the next series of these classes in a similar format.
Small family groups are being scheduled to visit the farm so that our students can maintain contact with their favorite horse and Miracles.
We have also been making behind-the-scenes videos so everyone can stay in touch with the farm and the horses.
We are all anxious to resume a full schedule of classes, but we know that it is important to do that in a responsible manner. Our primary concern is keeping our students, staff, instructors, and volunteers safe. We will update you on our website as the situation evolves. Please stay safe.
It's So Hard to Say Goodbye - Jasper
You could set your watch by Jasper waiting at the gate for grain morning and evening. If you were late, he would let you know by banging on the gate. It took him a long time to eat – and just when you would think he was done, he would lower his head to eat a bit more. It was hard to know if he really needed that long to eat, or just wanted to prolong his time in the barn. He was easy to spot in the field – with his white face, three white socks and small size. He was perfect for first time/small riders, as he seemed to know he needed to be really careful in carrying them around the arena. Even when we “retired” him, he would be called on to do one more session with a small rider and he relished being back at work.
There wasn’t a dry eye in the group as we knew it was time to send him on his way. He had been at Miracles 19 years and his records say he was born in 1989, so would be 31, although anecdotally many thought he was closer to 40. Our thanks to veterinarian, Jim McNutt, and Altorfer Cat Rental in Cedar Rapids for helping Nick, Deb and Karla make the transition as easy as possible.
Jasper's Fans Comment
It is hard to put into words what this horse has meant to me and all of the volunteers and board members here at Miracles in Motion. I think about the hundreds and hundreds of students and clients that have ridden Jasper over his 19 years of being at Miracles in Motion. The therapy and friendship Jasper has given to every one of us at one time or another has truly been his gift. Jasper loved being in the field, his stall, but he was in his element in the arena during therapeutic classes and hippotherapy sessions. For Jasper it was game on! Jasper could engage with whomever was riding him. He knew how to connect, how to strengthen that rider, how to heal. Not all horses have that power, but Jasper did. The stories are endless, just talk to his riders and their parents, volunteers and instructors on how Jasper could change a rider’s day.
Jasper has not left Miracles as he will always be a part of each of us here. Jasper gave his all every day, and the hardest part of loving a horse is letting him go. This horse was one of my best friends, a teacher and a true ambassador to the mission of Miracles.
We know that Jasper’s riding is done here at Miracles but Jasper and all the great therapy horses never leave us. Their spirit rides in our hearts and carries us through the sorrow that we are feeling right now. I know that my heart is sad for me, but I also know that Jasper is relishing in his new life. And we know we do not have to look much further than our hearts to find Jasper. -Deb
Jasper is at peace. He leaves behind many heavy hearts - a good horse who touched many people. -Maggie
Oh no!! So sorry to hear he has not improved. Such a special gentleman. -Nancy
I was sorry to hear about Jasper leaving us. When it is time, it is his time. Love that old guy. -Jackie
Wow, this hurts more than others. At least he is with Scooter and Red. And young again. -Ken
I’m so sorry. I agree with this assessment but it’s still such a hard reality. This is so soon after Scooter but maybe that’s just the way. The old boys were buddies for a long time. -Karla
Oh no. I am so sad to hear this. -Mary
Jasper was always the horse we used with little ones in hippotherapy - so gentle, so patient, so tolerant, and so willing to keep working beyond our expectations. He never gave up and was truly loved by so many children (and grownups too!). I’m so sad that he is gone. -Karla, Physical Therapist
Of all the wonderful horses I had the privilege of helping to care for during my relatively short time as a chores volunteer at Miracles, Jasper touched my heart in a special way. He reminded me of a dear gelding that was my riding partner and best friend for 28 of his 31 years. Jasper's way of connecting with the humans in his realm and his devotion to his role as an equine therapist were truly remarkable. RIP Jasper. I envision you now running and playing with Scooter in eternity's heavenly green pastures. -Judith
Jasper died Wednesday, June 24, 2020.
Here you can donate in his memory.
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Our newsletter is formatted and edited by Lois James .