OK Mother, Trainer Provides Free Horse Therapy For Special Needs Children

Sunday, December 1st 2013, 6:41 pm
By: News 9

An Oklahoma mother of a special needs child wants to leave a legacy of hope and joy for other families.

Athena Captain's 8-year-old daughter, Savannah Davis, suffers from a rare form of cerebral palsy, but is currently "undiagnosed." She can't walk or talk and suffers from seizures.

"It's beyond complicated," said Athena on taking care of a special needs child. "It's financially draining. You never know what a day has in store."

Along with Savannah's medical therapies, Athena started her on equine therapy at the age of three. Little did she know, her daughter's relationship with horses would become life-changing.

"Horses brought Savannah to us," she said. "We found out that horses were going to be the item that was going to take her from her isolated interior world to our world."

Not only did the equine therapy help Savannah better communicate with her family, it also provided physical benefits.

"Just mounting the horse and riding, you're working all of your core muscles," said Dr. Velinda Baker, who has been doing equine therapy for the past six years. "You've got to understand that these kids are very in tune to what's going on, that machine's just not working."

But through the therapy, Athena has noticed significant improvement in Savannah's physical abilities.

"She has enormous trunk control now. She can sit up straight," she said. "We've watched her have better agility and she has learned how to use her fine motor skills."

It's also allowed Athena, as a mother, to do something she never dreamed possible.

"I don't ever get to watch Savannah play in a sport, do dance. It's not going to be something that's part of my life," Athena said. "Horse therapy, as a parent, gives me the ability to watch my daughter participate in something and not be a bystander."

A joy she wants to give other families. So, she and Velinda started Savannah's Station in June, to provide free horse therapy to other children with special needs.

"When these kids who are down in the wheelchairs go up on the horses, all at once, they get to look down at us," said Velinda. "It gives them a feeling of being in control and it gives them a feeling of being important."

Savannah's Station serves 16 students right now out of El Reno, but they hope to increase enrollment when they open up two more stations in Piedmont and Warr Acres next spring.

"I may never watch her walk. I don't know how long I'm going to have her. I know what that feels like for those families," said Athena. "Anything we can do to take what Savannah loves and bridge that to other families, we want to."

Savannah's Station works solely off of donations.

Find out more about Savannah's Station and how you can donate!