STREET, Md. (WJZ) — When Nancy Donnelly joined the Board of Directors at Chesapeake Therapeutic Riding, she had no idea that one day she would be using the non-profit she was helping run.

“I always wanted to be up on a horse,” Donnelly said. “But I didn’t have a disability.”

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But a motorcycle accident in 2014 would change that.

“They saved three quarters off it,” Donnelly said. “I have a below the knee amputation.”

Donnelly said, in many ways, the accident was a blessing. She said t taught her a lot of important lessons and led her back to riding.

“Disabilities do not define a person,” Donnelley said. “They can enhance a person’s life.”

That’s what Chesapeake Therapeutic Riding is designed to do- enhance the lives of people with all ability levels. Whether through building strength, balance and self-esteem with therapeutic riding.

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Cathy Schmidt is the founder and executive director of Chesapeake Therapeutic Riding. Schmidt and her team of certified staff have provided alternative recreation to more than 5,000 individuals since 2003.

“Why horses? First of all, they’re beautiful creatures,” Schmidt said. “They express emotions just like people do, but they’re also fun to be around. They provide great recreation.”

In the past, that recreation was provided at farms Chesapeake Therapeutic Riding rented, but not anymore.

Through grants and private donations, they were able to purchase a 28.5-acre farm in Harford County.

“Having our own farm literally means that we put down roots and that everything that we do here, will stay here, and grow here and thrive here,” Schmidt said.

It means they will be able to continue providing services, like those to Donelly, for years to come.

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If you think you, or someone you know could benefit from Chesapeake Therapeutic Riding, click here for more information.

Sean Streicher