Jennifer's Heroes: Sarah Daly; Charlottesville Area Riding Therapy

By: Jennifer Black Email
By: Jennifer Black Email

August 6, 2009

Sarah Daly is at the core of a program called Charlottesville Area Riding Therapy (CART); a program showing kids with disabilities they can let go of all their challenges as soon as they grab hold of reigns.

"I'm just doing the thing that I love best and trying to do it the best way I know. [I'm] trying to relate what I love about horses and riding onto these kids," said Daly.
Inside the ring at CART you will find the most inspiring people, perched atop 800 pound horses. The horses provide both fun and function to kids with symptoms similar to Cerebral Palsy and other motor disabilities.

"He walks in and he greets Sarah and he greets the volunteers and he greets the horses one-by-one, by name. So, that part of it is really nice for Justin to have that," said Tricia Lucas, Justin's mother.

With encouraging words, Daly teaches her students how to control the animal, while at the same time controlling their bodies.

"It [riding] builds up their leg muscles and their back, their posture. They have to focus and they have to calm down; the horse makes them calm," said Daly, the Executive Director of CART.

While the therapy the horses offer is unique, those who volunteer with Daly say working with her is the real rewarding experience.

"It takes a very special person. It's something that you really have to feel strongly about to put as much commitment and effort into it as Sarah does," said CART volunteer, Laurie Hanahan.

Even though she works with children with special needs, parents and co-workers alike say Daly never treats the children any different than she would anyone else. And that means the world to parents who bring in their kids.

"Now instead of being the child that's left behind, he's right there and he's successful, it motivates him to want to do more. It's just an incredible feeling to watch him," said Carla Gress, who brings her son to CART.
With every lesson, Sarah Daly is encouraging kids to trot, and with every hoof beat, they leave their troubles behind.

Contact CART:
5924 Fried Farm Road
Crozet, Virginia 22932
Phone: (434) 823-1178
Email C.A.R.T.

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