ROXBURY — Kayla Ireland is wheelchair-bound, but that isn’t stopping her from following her dreams of horseback riding.
The 20-year-old rides horses at Little Britches Therapeutic Riding Center in Roxbury, where she’s been going for the past 15 years. Little Britches is designed to expand and improve the physical and emotional well-being of individuals with special needs through horses and ponies and serves more than 80 riders per week.
Eversource is proud to have contributed toward Little Britches to support their therapy sessions that benefit riders around the state, like Kayla.
“Riding is my freedom. It is the only thing I can do like everyone else without any medical equipment like my wheelchair, walker and leg braces,” said Kayla. “Lucy, the horse, replaces all the equipment with her movements and magic.”
“This program really empowers people with special needs and you can really see it in the riders faces when you come to visit Little Britches,” said Eversource Community Relations Specialist Hedy Ayers. “We knew Eversource could help make a difference with a donation.”
Nineteen-year-old Alicia Crossley has been going to Little Britches for riding lessons since she was seven. The program has boosted her confidence despite having Down syndrome.
“Little Britches allows her to be the focus and she is the star athlete,” said Cheri Crossley, Alicia’s mother and Bridgewater resident. “She looks forward to this every week.”
Samantha Sola is a certified instructor at Little Britches and has worked closely with both Alicia and Kayla throughout the years. While on the horses, Samantha has the girls perform different exercises that work on their posture, core strength, stamina, balance and of course, their confidence.
“This means a lot to them,” said Ms. Sola. “This job is very rewarding, and it feels good when you see the kids improving every time they come.”
For Kayla, riding is more than therapeutic to her, it’s a sport she takes very seriously.
“I am working towards achieving my goal of riding independently and competing at a para-dressage competition,” said the Plymouth resident.
Those wishing to learn more about the riding program at Little Britches may visit https://www.littlebritchesct.org/.