The Queen of Hearts Therapeutic Riding Center aims to improve the lives of people with mental, physical and emotional disabilities through the power of the horse. Riding and working with horses can have a beneficial effect on a variety of diagnoses, including cerebral palsy, autism, post-traumatic stress disorder, intellectual disabilities, visual and hearing impairments, according to Robin Kilcoyne, founder and executive director of the organization.
âThrough counseling and learning about horse care, clients learn to find their value,â Kilcoyne said. “They find their purpose, their self-esteem and their compassion for themselves as well as for others.”
The three-dimensional movement of a horse when walking moves the rider’s pelvis into the walking position. This helps activate brain centers to help cyclists develop balance and strength, Kilcoyne said. A person who is not able to walk finds a lot of power in being able to sit on the horse and lead. Through therapeutic riding, clients learn to process information faster and develop a faster response system.
Queen of Hearts was briefly closed at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and when the organization reopened in June 2020, had to reduce the number of clients it served, working with nine instead of 30 each week. Some clients whose health is more fragile have not yet been able to return.
Meanwhile, Queen of Hearts has been able to work with volunteers through its Helping the Equine and Rider Team, or HART, program. The unemployed were able to volunteer, get out of the house, and help the ranch groom the horses, make repairs, and help teach.
âPeople in the community have come forward to help with the animals,â Kilcoyne said. “We had money set aside to help with the horses, but not enough for everything.”
Now that many volunteers have returned to their jobs and many of the organization’s clients are ready to return, Queen of Hearts is looking for staff. The organization needs a riding instructor and office help. To attract more clients, the organization also needs more volunteers.
Kilcoyne hopes the community will come to the Queen of Hearts Open House from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. on September 19 to learn more about volunteer opportunities and programs available at the ranch. The event lands on “Talk Like a Pirate Day” which will be the theme of the event. There will be a prize for the best pirate costume. There will also be a demonstration by Linda Mullin who has polio and will show what therapeutic riding means to her.
Recently, Queen of Hearts received a grant from the Youth Grantmakers program of the Inland Empire Community Foundation. The grant supports the HART program and opportunities for students and interns to learn how to work with people with disabilities.
The organization wants additional support from the community. The organization also needs support in feeding the horses and providing veterinary care.
More than just helping customers, volunteers also gain confidence, self-esteem and often return to the ranch to share their successes.
âThese services improve the quality of life for so many people,â Kilcoyne said. âIf only people could see what daily miracles are happening here. It’s not just a pony ride, it’s a quality of life that helps people thrive, not just survive.
Information: https://www.queenofheartsranch.org/ or 951-734-6300
The Inland Empire Community Foundation works to strengthen Inland Southern California through philanthropy.