|Natalie Minckler, Executive Director of the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation, presents Michelle Kropp of Hearts & Hooves (left) with a $5,000 grant. (Photo by Andy Devlin/EOHC)
|Children help groom one of Hearts & Hooves' miniature horses during the program's recent visit to Edmonton's Elmwood School. (Photo by Andy Devlin/EOHC) |
The Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation (EOCF) prides itself in supporting a variety of worthwhile charitable causes across Oil Country, and while many of those programs rely heavily on volunteers and community support, few include the participation of miniature horses. But Hearts & Hooves is a different sort of charity, and this past Friday, the EOCF showed its support with a $5,000 grant for the unique program.
In the schoolyard of Elmwood School, Hearts & Hooves volunteers introduced a handful of miniature horses to delighted special needs children, guiding them through various grooming and leading exercises.
According to Michelle Kropp, Founder and President of Hearts & Hooves in Edmonton, interaction with the horses provides a valuable learning opportunity for the children.
“It’s educational, it’s occupational therapy, it’s physical therapy, it’s fun, it’s creative, and it’s an opportunity for them to meet horses in an environment they would not otherwise have the chance,” she said. “As we all know, anybody that has a pet loves them dearly. They bring great joy to our lives and people don’t have the opportunity to have that same experience with horses until we can bring it to them.”
In addition to Hearts & Hooves’ Reach Out program, which brings the miniature horses to special needs children at local schools, the organization also introduces equine therapy to senior’s homes and hospitals. Not only do participants benefit from the contact with horses, the horses benefit from Hearts & Hooves as well.
“We act in part as a rescue organization, so a lot of these little guys come to us needing care, so we adopt them out and find them homes,” Kropp explained.
“I always had horses in my life – big ones – and unfortunately they don’t fit in elevators and you can’t take them places,” she continued. “I’m also a special needs teacher, so it was just something I felt I needed to share with people.”
Click here for more information on Hearts & Hooves, or visit the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation at oilersfoundation.ca.