Photo courtesy of Tally Horse Park
By Johnny Martin | Reporter
When Marti Stevens was 9 years old she had a dream to become a horse owner of her own. Growing up she never had her own horse – she always boarded horses – but now she has her own and she does not want to waste that opportunity.
“I’m trying to create horse owners,” Stevens said. “I recruit the city people to come take lessons and for that three to four hours that’s their horse.”
After years of working for UPS and Mission Linen, Stevens began to deal with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in both of her hands. At that point she decided that it was time to live out her dream. She then created Tally Ho Horse Park and Tally Ho Therapeutic Riding Academy.
With Tally Ho Horse Park, kids that are known in the community as “well kids” get a chance to become horse owners of their own. Stevens teaches them everything they need to know about the horse, from how to put the halter on to when the horse looks a certain way that’s what they’re thinking and what they’re going to do.
“They learn empathy and compassion,” Stevens said. “They have to think of the horse first or their outcome doesn’t happen or they get hurt.”
For the Therapeutic Academy, she welcomes the special needs kids into her park and allows them the chance to ride horses and also become horse owners of their own.
“A little before 2010 I realized there’s a need for this,” Stevens said. “I bring in the special needs kids and where applicable, I strive for inclusion. I try to get the special needs kids included because every one of them just wants to be normal.”
Both Tally Ho Horse Park and the Therapeutic Academy are non-profit organizations ran under only the control of Stevens. The two run solely off donations and the help of families that have children involved in either program.
“My hope is one day that if these people get their own horse, that horse is lucky,” Stevens said. “And it gets a human that knows something – that’s my ultimate goal – and to have a lot of fun in between.”
For volunteer opportunities and ways you can get involved in the fun, either firsthand or through donations, visit the Tally Ho website at tallyhohorsepark.com. You can also find the non-profit organization on Facebook at Tally Ho Horse Park.
“I’m always looking for volunteers on any capacity,” Stevens said. “If they want to work with the horses or lead the horses when the students are on them or some people even like to clean the stalls. So any capacity we’ll figure out your strengths and let you do that.”
Stevens knew that investing all her time and money into Tally Ho Horse Park would come with it’s struggles but she says she wouldn’t trade it for the world and hopes that she can continue to do this for years to come.
“Sometimes it’s hard and I catch myself going ‘Oh my God,’” Stevens said. “But then I stop and just think, it’s that moment when someone gets it, you can see it actually and it keeps it new for me.”