Friday, April 4, 2014

Feature Friday – LaRue Sprouse Dowd – Sharing The Love Of Horses

Howdy Folks,

It is LaRue Sprouse Dowd's mission to help children embrace and understand the goodness that comes from the spirit of the horse, and the lessons young folks can learn while around horses. 

Her story will be my June, 2014 Heartbeat column in Trailblazer magazine. I love featuring the folks I'm writing about here in our Coffee Clutch blog so our friends can get to know them, and look forward to the whole story in my column.

LaRue's smile and encouragement are always present
LaRue's nature is one of kindness, support, positive attitude and optimism. Her students, their parents, the volunteers, boarders and horses all benefit from her ability to help others believe in themselves, try harder and find the joy in the moment. Whether that moment is mastering a new horsemanship skill, understanding the importance of patience, or caring for the horses. LaRue is always able to offer upbeat advice and guidance, helping others to see the world through positive eyes. 

There is a depth to LaRue's teachings and understanding, given her by a lifetime of loving and learning from horses, and talented people. She started riding at the age of four. Before finishing high school, LaRue owned ten horses, had trained other people's horses, had begun giving riding lessons, and was positive horses would be her life. She'd even done her share of, "catch riding," for other trainers.

She holds two Bachelor Degrees, one Vet Tech, the other in Equine Therapy. So skilled was LaRue at understanding horses and riding that, in her senior year at Morehead State University, she was asked to teach the, "Advanced Saddle Seat Course." She's worked with, and helped heal horses in some of the most prestigious show barns in the country. She held licenses to work on the tracks of, Saratoga, Keeneland, Belmont, and Palm Springs. She studied under Mimi Porter, who was one of the first to introduce rehabilitative therapy to performance horses, and Marvin Cain, the man responsible for first bringing acupuncture to horses in the United States.

From the start LaRue had a clear vision of what she would do when returning home. She knew how much horses had meant to her in her down times. She also knew there were simply too many children in her hometown who needed something good and solid to hang onto. She knew too, she and the horses could offer that solid something. Her name honors her two grandmothers', Lucille and Ruth. Respect for those who came before, and commitment to community are important to LaRue and her family. In 2008 she opened Sprouse'sCorner Ranch offering riding lessons, coaching, boarding, training, trail riding, summer camps, and shows, with the mission to, through horses, help kids.
Children love their time at Sprouse's Corner Ranch

In 2009 LaRue welcomed a local therapeutic riding program,Heartland Horse Heroes, to Sprouse's Corner Ranch. Under her stewardship Heartland Horse Heroes has grown to offer not only private therapeutic riding lessons for children, but also a program for the local county elementary special education school children. And this spring Heartland Horse Heroes will be offering a new program for at-risk youths through Inner City Slickers, a national program founded by Michael McMeel, that has had over 10,000 youths through the program.
Group Equine Assisted Therapy In Heartland Horse Heroes Arena
Her commitment to helping horses remains strong. Part of what she does so well is lead by example. Her lesson horses work once per day, for 3-5 days per week. The horses in the therapeutic riding program only perform therapeutic lesson duties once a week. All therapy and lesson horses are also taken on trail rides by the students so they can stretch their legs and clear their minds. Her volunteers and students are taught release and relax exercises for the horses, and they are part of the program. The horses have large fields to romp in and healthy herd environments. Some of her lesson horses are rescues. 

LaRue works closely with Beauty Haven's Farm and Equine Rescue, based in Florida, through a farm near Sprouse's Corner Ranch. LaRue not only adopts and gives homes and jobs to those rescue horses, but she helps find homes for many others; fifteen last year. She has recently launched a new program for adoption where adoptees can take on a horse, board with LaRue and take lessons for two months; just to be sure the match is perfect.

Wisdom, born of years working with horses and people in many different environments and situations is what LaRue offers to children, parents and horses. Kindness and understanding is her secret recipe that makes it work so well, for the people, and the horses.

Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry

1 comment:

  1. What a great calling, best of luck to you LaRue Sprouse Dowd ~