Horse-riding enthusiasts, as well as citizens who have a first-hand appreciation of the special needs therapeutic horseback riding can address, are invited to participate in the inaugural “Power of the Herd 24-Hour Ride-a-Thon,” being hosted by Inspiration Stables Friday, Sept. 27 and Saturday, Sept. 28, at Blush Acres in Worthington.

Inspiration Stables is a therapeutic riding program created by Sarah Kumpf, executive director. According to the organization’s website, the mission of Inspiration Stables is “inspiring hearts and hooves to build lasting relationships to promote healing, wellness, self-expression and meaning.”

The program, began in 2018, teaches therapeutic riding lessons to children in the community with special needs between the ages of 4-17. The children learn horsemanship skills, work on physical and emotional challenges, and are encouraged, supported and made to feel at home.

Inspiration Stables is a 501©(3) nonprofit corporation, and the funds raised from the ride-a-thon are essential to its continued success. “Any program similar to Inspiration Stables only earns 10-15% of its income from programming fees,” Kumpf explained. “The remainder comes from private donations, grants and fundraisers. A successful fundraiser is critical for the maintenance and growth of Inspiration Stables and for the families we support.”

The 24-hour event will feature themed hours of horseback riding, including jumping, barrel racing, bareback, dress-up contests and more.

“Therapeutic horseback riding provides a unique experience that allows a child with special needs the opportunity to work on goals while having fun in a stimulating environment and building an incredible relationship with a horse,” said Kumpf.

She extolled the possible benefits of the program, saying, “We’ve had children in our program who have had traditional physical therapy in-home every week for a year and were unable to walk. After a six-week session of riding, they were walking with minimal support holding someone’s hand.”

Kumpf said children with autism who are non-verbal have uttered their first words when making the connection between verbal commands and direct action when their horse moves to their commands. “A horse has an indescribable way of connecting to a human in a way that no other being can,” Kumpf said. “They don’t ask anything, try their hardest to please, provide a sensory experience and compassion often hard to find. This connection motivates the children with special needs we serve to come back week after week to continue to grow and become better versions of themselves.”

Kumpf said the ride-a-thon is the first undertaken by the organization. “We wanted a unique fundraiser that hasn’t been done in our area before. We wanted something different that truly shows what our program is all about. This event truly brings everyone together and has something for everyone.”

There is no charge to come and watch the ride-a-thon, and Kumpf said it provides a great opportunity to bring family and friends to see what Inspiration Stables is all about.

Blush Acres is located at 30234 East Worthington Road in Worthington, and the event kicks off at 4 p.m. Sept. 27.