They've provided 8 years of riding therapy; now the horses need help


Tonya Poppen's daughter uses a wheelchair – most of the time. But during her riding therapy sessions every week, Emily "gets to be a girl who rides horses," her mother tells WCCO.

Poppen tells the station her visits to Hold Your Horses in Independence, Minnesota, are both physically and emotionally therapeutic for her daughter.

But after eight years of making the trip to Independence, it's unclear where the Poppens will head this spring because Hold Your Horses is on the verge of homelessness.

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Owners of the land they've been using for their equine-assisted therapy notified Hold Your Horses they'll need to be out by April 1.

The group says its seven horses weigh a combined 8,500 pounds, so moving them is no small operation. They've launched an online fundraising campaign in hopes of coming up with $50,000.

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But Hold Your Horses has another problem: they don't know where they're going.

To continue providing their year-round service, they'll need a place that can not only accommodate those seven horses, but also provide a heated arena.

The challenge of finding a new home under deadline pressure might send some of us to new heights of anxiety. Then again, most of us don't get the chance to be around horses every day and benefit from the lessons they can provide to people of varying abilities.

There are a number of groups across the state that provide equine-assisted therapy. The Minnesota Horse Council provides a list of programs for riders with disabilities.

By Wednesday night, Hold Your Horses had raised more than $12,000 toward its $50,000 goal. They'll get a boost on March 6 when the band Trailer Trash holds a benefit concert for the group at Lee's Liquor Lounge in Minneapolis.

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