Children’s TherAplay horses honored for 25 years of hippotherapy services


By Dawn Pearson

Therapy horses Gideon and FairyTale of The Children’s TherAplay Foundation in west Carmel have a lot to trot about.

The horses have 25 years of combined service, 15 and 10 years, respectively, serving children of central Indiana with more than 13,500 equine-assisted physical and occupational therapy treatments. The treatment is called hippotherapy, and with the help of therapy horses it “is changing lives for children with diagnoses ranging from cerebral palsy, spina bifida, traumatic brain injury, autism spectrum disorders and Down syndrome,” said Hillary McCarley, executive director of Children’s TherAplay.

The two horses were honored at The Show and Tail Lunch and Fundraiser Aug. 10. The event included lunch and therapy treatment demonstrations with two of the children, Stryder Wickman, 5, and Charlotte Hibert, 3, who receive treatments. The event also included a letter from the Mayor’s Office and a ribbon cutting for the new stables.

Most children love horse rides, but for the children who attend Children’s TherAplay, the therapy rides that Gideon and FairyTale provide can change lives.

Stryder was born with spina bifida, her mother Becca said.

“Because of Children’s TherAplay, Stryder has been taking his first independent steps, and to be perfectly honest, (his father and I) didn’t think this may happen,” Becca said. “It’s amazing what these horses do, and it can’t be replicated in other therapy. It builds up his core, and he can’t wait to go to therapy.”

At the luncheon, Children’s TherAplay founder William Craig Dobbs outlined the costs of therapy and the deficits the foundation faces.

“Each hour of treatment costs Children’s TherAplay $225, but the average insurance reimbursement is only $92. Funds raised through #Horsepower500 (fundraising event) help close the $133 per treatment gap, ensuring that these children continue to have access to these life-changing therapies so families can afford it as well,” he said.

During lunch, Stryder and Charlotte mounted the horses for a demonstration, then Gideon and FairyTail were presented with a carrot cake and ribbons, followed by the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Hoe-Down coming

The annual Children’s TherAplay Hoe-Down will be from 7 to 11 p.m. Sept. 23. It will include a mechanical bull, music from Corey Cox, live and silent auctions, a bourbon tasting and much more. For more, visit


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