By Haylee Pence
PIQUA – “The best kept secret in Miami County,” is how Founder Keith Shaurer describes his organization, Eagles’ Wings Therapeutic Riding Center. Eagles’ Wings Stable is a non-profit organization that provides “equine-assisted therapeutic activities for people with special needs to benefit and improve their development and quality of life,” according to Schaurer.
The stable provides eight, one-hour courses over the span of eight weeks where participants work alongside coordinators and volunteers to ride the horse, brush the horse, and participate in other activities. The activities are devised with the “physical, mental, and emotional well-being for each participant,” according to Schaurer.
The courses help participants through physical or mental obstacles by helping the participants develop balance, strength, stability, emotional recognition skills, and cognitive skills. The riding helps participants strengthen “their central core,” Schaurer shared. Participants receive a “whole person approach” when it comes to helping with developing skills and utilizing a horse allows for a “constantly changing dynamic that perceives and responds to emotions.”
Schaurer was inspired to create this therapeutic riding center after experiencing one near Lima for his nephew, stating, “I didn’t watch that first class for long before all these little spaghetti threads started rolling around in my head and came together, and I thought this is great. This is something I can do.” Schaurer grew up with horses, and when his daughter received one as a gift, he became a teacher and a trainer to give his daughter horse-experience and to give the horse human-experience.
A year later, Eagles’ Wings was created and running. It has been operational for 15 years, servicing over 1,000 individuals. Schaurer states, “Some riders come and go, while others continue to ride here.”
For the upcoming spring course, there are currently 18 participants registered for courses.
The eight-week course has a cost of $320 per rider, which Schaurer states is “the normal price range” of equine-based therapeutic services. The cost of the classes cover less than 30% of the organization’s budget, with the remaining costs coming from donations and grants. Some donors include the Piqua Community Foundation, the Troy Foundation, Piqua Fish and Game, United Way Miami County, and Tipp City Foundation, among others.
Eagles’ Wings courses operate with the usage of volunteers with at least nine volunteers for each session and a total of 64 volunteers being available. All volunteers are required to attend a volunteer orientation to better understand the workings of the courses. If volunteers are not comfortable working closely with the horses, there are other options available like cleaning stalls.
Eagles’ Wings will be hosting their annual Benefit Dinner at the Upper Valley Career Center on Saturday, April 2. The event starts at 5:30 p.m., and tickets are $37.50. The dinner is provided by Heritage Event & Catering. Throughout the event, a live auction and silent auction will happen. Tickets can be purchased through their website.
For more information on volunteering, donating, the organization, and the Benefit Dinner, please visit their website at eagleswingsstables.org.