Horses with HEART
Horses with H.E.A.R.T., Inc. was founded in 1993 by Vickie Stuart to provide individuals with disabilities the opportunity to participate in therapeutic and recreational horseback riding. The inspiration came from Vickie’s work as a speech therapist working with Special Education students at Del Rio Elementary School in Chino Valley, Arizona. One day, she brought her daughter’s pony to work with the students. The children loved “Star” and they responded so much better than the traditional “four walls and balls” therapies.
Based on that experience, Horses with H.E.A.R.T. was incorporated and sessions were held on weekends and school breaks at the S Bar & J Ranch in Chino Valley. “Buddy”, a Quarter Horse was the first donated horse in the program. Vickie and her family would travel for 15 miles from their home in Paulden, hauling the horses and picking up volunteers and riders along the way to the Ranch. In 1993, there were about 25 riders, 12 volunteers and a 5 member Board of Directors.
It was in 1996 that Trudy Chapman restructured the nonprofit and moved operations to her Ranch on Cherry Circle in Dewey. In 2000, Horses with H.E.A.R.T. moved to the Whistle Stop Ranch in Dewey and remained there through 2008. From those humble beginnings, Horses with H.E.A.R.T. has served the quad-city communities (Prescott, Prescott Valley, Chino Valley and Dewey) for 16 years. In 2008, we served 236 participants with the assistance of 218 volunteers, 15 equines and 12 Board of Directors. An Executive Director was hired in November 2007, prior to this date the nonprofit had been run solely by volunteers.