Over the centuries, special bonds have existed between horses and humans. For the physically challenged, horses have offered not only a source of mobility but also recreational and therapeutic opportunities. Therapeutic Horseback Riding turned many heads during the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki. Madame Liz Hartel, who had survived polio, had been told she would never walk again, had, through a riding program, developed enough strength to “walk away from her wheelchair” and won the Silver Medal in the dressage competition. Soon thereafter, numerous therapeutic riding centers opened throughout Europe. During the 1970s and 1980s, centers opened across Canada and the United States. In 1985, Lalage Warrington wanted to organize a Therapeutic Horseback Riding program at her farm in Campobello, SC. She asked Flo Erickson, a local Girl Scout Leader, to attend a North American Riding for the Handicapped Association, (now changed to Path International), conference with her. in Atlanta, GA. Lalage and Flo returned and organized a Board of Directors with Ellen Hines Smith, Anna Gray Phillips, Christy Fister, and Carol Fietel. Attorney Jack Lawrence donated his time to advise them with initial legal and taxation issues.
Soon HALTER moved to Shirley George’s stables located on Highway 56 behind George’s Feed Store. Shirley George had a riding ring built and generously supported the program with boarding arrangements for the horses. This location served the program well until it moved in 2006. Since its inception, HALTER has served students from the South Carolina School for the Deaf and Blind (SCSDB). HALTER relocated to the SCSDB campus on June 21, 2006, so the students could have increased riding time and not have to load onto buses and travel to the location near Pauline. Also, this location is more centralized for Spartanburg area residents who participate in the program. The School has agreed to a long-term lease. In 2013, a large covered arena was built, which made it making it possible to conduct classes in spite of the rain or the hot sun. HALTER provides equine-assisted activities, including therapeutic riding, equine-assisted learning, occupational and physical therapy, and limited mental health services to children with challenges in the community, including some students at the South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind. All services are provided by the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH) registered/certified individuals. HALTER hosts and assists the Spartanburg Regional Hospital Pediatric Rehabilitation licensed occupational, and physical therapists 2 days each week with their clients, utilizing the unique movement and characteristics of horses. Contact SRH 864-560-6480 about these services. All services require the help of trained and dedicated volunteers. If interested, please contact us to learn more. Valuing the vision, hard work, dedication, and loyalty of all who have served and supported HALTER as staff members, donors, and/or volunteers, including the horses, will help carry their wisdom and efforts to many more who can benefit for generations to come.