Women say their retirement plans now include helping others at this therapeutic riding center

Healing Touch Therapeutic Riding Center offers supplemental therapy to those with special needs

ST. CLOUD, Fla. – Fresh air, cool breeze and open spaces.

Equine-based therapy provides a supplemental alternative to an office setting and for this week’s Getting Results Award winners it also provides satisfaction in knowing their retirement plan involves helping others.

Mary Kingslien and Chris Davis are co-founders of Healing Touch Therapeutic Riding Center in St.Cloud. The ranch is only minutes from Florida’s Turnpike but a world away from city life.

“They come out, they can pet the horses. They can look at the birds. They can get on and be in control for themselves,” Kingslien said, describing a typical session at their 5-acre ranch.

Healing Touch provides equine therapy for children and adults with special needs. Therapeutic riding helps improve motor skills, core strength, muscle tone and confidence.

“It’s the horse. The horse makes the connection,” Davis said.

“It’s just amazing when you see the transformation,” Kingslien continued. “How these horses work with these kids. It’s beautiful.”

Steven and Diana Fisher have seen that transformation for themselves. Their daughter 8-year-old Susanna has autism and has been coming to Healing Touch for about three years.

“When Susanna started she was non-verbal, she was signing,” Steven Fisher said as he watched Susanna make her way around the obstacle course with the help of volunteers and an instructor. “Now you get her hemmed up and have a conversation with her, she’ll talk your ear off now.”

Fisher describes the riding center as “homey and warm.” That’s the feel Davis and Kingslien are trying to cultivate.

“We are very much family here and I think that’s probably what sets us apart,” Kingslien said. “It’s not about quantity for us it’s about quality.”

Davis agrees, “You come out here and you feel peace. You feel peace and harmony. And that’s what we try to get for these children and adults is some harmony in their lives.”

The two were nominated for the News 6 Getting Results Award by volunteer, Larry Suda. Suda has been volunteering once or twice a week for the last year.

“These two ladies here just strive to do better and help people,” Suda said. " They just work so hard."

Davis and Kingslien say there is a waiting list for parents and students wanting to participate.

“It’s what the people need,” Davis said. “We get calls every single day that we have to turn people away because we don’t have enough volunteers to help during the week. This is what we want. We want to be able to help and help more.”

"This program can not operate without volunteers. Chris and I, this is a labor of love. We’re two old ladies that live off social security, Kingslien said with a laugh. “We are in need of volunteers that can help more during the week.”

“We look upon it as this is a blessing for us. To be able to give back,” Kingslien said.

The two hope to one day add a covered arena. If you would like to volunteer or make a donation towards operating costs please call: 407-405-7850

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