I am so thankful for Spirithorse and cannot say enough wonderful things about it. 5 years ago I was diagnosed with a neurological condition known as Guillane-Barres Syndrome. It left me with extremely weak legs with some toes paralyzed.

I am an RN and although was old enough to retire, I hadn’t planned to. I’ve always been an active person and had to give up most of my hobbies, my favorite being horseback riding.

I’d heard of places to ride for disabled people but was told by one doctor this would be impossible for me. Thankfully a friend from church knew of Spirithorse and contacted someone she knew who volunteered there. Through a series of events I was able to meet the most wonderful person there, Charlotte. She was willing to work with me if my doctor gave permission. I talked with another of my doctors. Initially he was hesitant until I mentioned Charlotte and Spirithorse. He knew her and knew of Spirithorse and couldn’t say enough wonderful things about both. He wholeheartedly gave his permission to try it!

My first visit we didn’t even know if they would be able to assist me on to a horse but Charlotte, being the experienced equestrian she is, knew of a method to try – the crest mount! With her and several staff members help I was on a horse again (dear Goose)! She and the staff have been amazing, making sure to be next to me to prevent any falls. Now I am progressing with my riding, needing less staff around me! My legs are stretching better and my psychological outlook has improved.

To me, Spirithorse is one of the happiest places on earth! I am so grateful for Spirithorse, Charlotte and the volunteers there- and for everyone that supports this amazing place. Thank you all!

Jane P

Spirit Horse has been an integral part of my development throughout my teenage years. From riding to volunteering, I have immensely benefited from being part of such a wonderful and impactful community. Spirit Horse empowers the lives of young people in ways that are far beyond the capacity of any other program. Charlotte has been an incredible mentor and instilled in me values of humility, compassion, and adaptability I will use for the rest of my life!
Olivia Velleca


I am an ICU nurse and was overwhelmed with the heartbreak we saw everyday at the start of the pandemic. I have suffered for most of my life with anxiety, major depression and PTSD that was only exacerbated by my service in the Air Force and deployment to Afghanistan.​
My medications had stopped working and I was beginning to sink into deep despair. My friend, who knew how I was suffering, invited me for an afternoon to Spirithorse, hoping to give me a reprieve. That afternoon changed my life. I met and fell in love with an old draft horse, Dually.

Then I met Charlotte who was so kind and gracious and supportive and encouraged me to become involved in SpiritHorse, taking care of Dually and then as a volunteer. For the first time in over 10 years, I felt joy. I felt hope. Even though Dually is not with me anymore, I have become more and more involved in the mission of Spirithorse and have witnessed the same transformation in others. Spirithorse has brought me peace and balance and has been more effective, for me, than medication in helping me weather the effects of mental illness. Spirithorse fills my cup so I can be fully present in caring for my patients and their families.



“When we first came to SpiritHorse, my son Jerehmeel was 13yrs old. Jerehmeel, who has autism and is non verbal, had just recently been diagnosed as intellectually disabled, and had steadily increasing problems with sensory processing that were taking over his happiness. I had a friend that knew Charlotte personally and recommended I talk to her. I came to SpiritHorse initially seeking out a recreational activity that he would enjoy and also provide proprioceptive input to help with his sensory needs.

Charlotte was able to identify Jerehmeel’s challenges and create a riding plan perfectly catered to them. I never would have imagined that feeling the steady pace and firm stride of a horse’s gait while riding could benefit him in so many ways. Within the first few weeks there was a notable increase in his communication, coordination, his ability to focus, eye contact, increased muscle tone, and most importantly a significant decrease in anxiety. While Jerehmeel has difficulty bonding with others, his bond with horses is amazing. He will stop riding many times during a session so he can hug the horse he’s riding for a minute or two.

A few months into riding, his teacher and in-home therapists would comment about his ability to focus, and the significant increase of communication attempts were phenomenal. They did not even know he had started therapeutic riding and was riding every week. Because of his new ability to focus, he became teachable. So we started teaching him to communicate through ASL and his iPad. Now he’s been riding for 2 and a half years and his vocabulary is huge. He is able to communicate his needs in a way that we can understand him. Jerehmeel understands his needs now, and he knows what riding does for him. There have been weeks where all Jerehmeel wants to do is hug his horse and other times he wants to ride as fast as Charlotte will allow. Him knowing his own needs is huge progress.

Jerehmeel’s younger sister, Jazmine, has been taking riding lessons too. She is 8 years old and a typical developing child, but she is very shy and does not speak much. She’s making amazing progress herself. She loves riding and takes great pride in it, but has also learned that she needs to be in control of the horse she’s riding, and that shyness don’t work with horses.

I highly recommend Charlotte and the SpiritHorse crew. Her knowledge of horsemanship and therapeutic riding is what makes this program so great.”

Patty Bigornia

“We recently had Jay’s yearly ISP with his case workers and care providers in his group home, and two adult programs that he attends during the week. It’s been a long, long time since we’ve had such an upbeat and positive meeting. The only new addition to his life this past year has been his riding and love of Nikki, all attributed to you and Spirit Horse.

In addition to an overall improved mood, attitude and happiness, there seems to be a new-found sense of responsibility that is translating into wanting to keep his room cleaner, pick up his work spaces at his programs, speaking and interacting more with his peers and just generally enjoying life more. Who knew all this could be attributed to the love of a horse?

Many thanks to you and your program, Charlotte! We look forward to wonderful things to come.”

Kathy Daley