Upcoming Fundraising Efforts

Starlight Salon presents the 5th annual Autism Awareness Fundraiser.  Join us on Saturday, September 22 at Frontenac Park in Union Springs for music, activities, pony rides and, of course, a wide variety of raffles.  Follow us on Facebook for pictures of raffle items.  Proceeds from this fundraiser are being forwarded to Healing H’Arts Equestrian Center, Inc for the dust-free footing.

Healing H’Arts has served many people on the Autism Spectrum using horses as a tool to build communication, social skills, and self-organization.  Riding provides the body with multiple sensory experiences.  The rhythmic movements from the horse helps to organize the brain and prepare for transition and change.  Horses put the pieces of the puzzle together.


Thoughts from Naomi Week 3 & 4

Week 3 was definitely my most challenging week so far, mentally and physically.

The past couple weeks I’ve had to sidewalk and of course help around the facility. For most of our riders, sidewalking is fairly easy and does not require a lot of strength because they can hold themselves up and balance fairly well. We had a rider in week 3 who initially did not want to ride and needed complete support while riding. While talking to Cyndy, she told me something. There’s a difference between pushing a kid too far, and knowing just how far to push them. Sometimes people need a little extra push to get better or be put outside of their comfort zone (this includes everyone). It might not make the situation easier, but I realized that knowing who you are working with is an important part of this job.

In week 4, that same rider came back. It was much easier that week than the previous week. He still did not want to get on, but he did not resist as much either. I saw an incredible improvement in the flexibility of his leg muscles. He was more relaxed and less tight, and he was able to sit up and he held his own body weight the majority of the ride.

These past couple weeks have been so exciting for me because I can actually see improvements so quickly. It makes me realize how rewarding volunteering at Healing H’Arts really is.


Thoughts from Naomi- Week 1 & 2

Hello, my name is Naomi Kubo. I am a student at Wells College and I am going into my junior year. I’m majoring in health sciences and I am volunteering over the summer at Healing H’Arts as an internship.

I have completed week 2 at Healing H’Arts and I have learned some very interesting things during just a short time. I think the most eye opening aspect is the amount of work it takes to running an organization such as Healing H’Arts. Healing H’Arts relies on many volunteers to help with running the program. However, Kirsta and Cyndy, along with the other members of their team, do a lot of extra things to make sure it runs smoothly. Not only are there building maintenance components of running this organization (such as cleaning and getting the arena ready for riders), there is also a lot of maintenance that goes into making sure the horses are ready to ride.

Although I’m only here 3 days a week, and 3 hours per day, I can easily see how much hard work goes into running this amazing place. I know that the reward is worth the hard work, and I know that Kirsta, Cyndy, and all the other volunteers would agree.

Pony Camps this Summer 2018

Healing H’Arts will offer summer camp for children 8- 12 years old.  Dates are:  July 16-20 or August 13-17.  The cost is $300 per child.  A $150 deposit is required at the time of registration.  Spaces are limited to 10 children per week to keep everyone safe and provide a quality experience.  No previous horse experience needed.

Camp begins at 8:30 am and runs until 3:00 pm.  Campers will be split into two groups.  Each group will ride two times per day (one hour each).  In the morning, if the children are not riding, they will be in a learning lab and then switch when the other children are finished riding.  In the afternoon, if the children are not riding, they are creating in our craft corner and then will switch when the other children are finished riding.  On Friday, campers will bath and braid their horses, have a hot-dog picnic and perform in a mock “horse show” for their families and loved ones.

Campers need to bring:

*bagged lunch for Monday – Thursday


*Must wear long pants and boots (sneakers are acceptable if boots are not available, however, not recommended)

*sweatshirt or rain gear

Physical Education

Healing H’Arts, as discussed before, works with the surrounding colleges. Besides offering Occupational Therapy related classes to students at Ithaca College, we also work with Wells College offering their students horseback riding for their physical education requirement. This course is offered at two separate times during the week to better fit the students’ schedules.

The course instructor, Elizabeth Barret has work with horses since she was a young girl on her mother’s Morgan horse farm. The farm she grew up on was a horse breeding farm, in fact two of the Morgans she works with in the course, Major and Friday were horses she facilitated the births of. In Elizabeth Barret’s two classes a week, she has four students learning to ride.

Barret has been teaching p20180227_155913eople to ride since she was 15 years old and has worked at a whole host of barns from Virginia to New Hampshire. She has an M.A. in Forensic Psychology, and M.A. in Forensic Mental Health Counseling. She is certified in Equine Appraisal since 2001 and certified as an Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning. Barret is currently working to get her P.A.T.H. certification.

Major and Friday were both bred and trained by Barret. She puts the new riders and horses together based on size and experience in order to find the best fit. She has not yet needed to switch horses and riders in these courses. With her experience, she has taken to an approach which focuses on the relationship between the horse and the rider. This emphasis on relationship is echoed in her warnings to the students, “it’s not a machine.” The students are encouraged to build a dynamic with their horse and be firm while also being aware that they are living animals.

The Students from Wells College are being taught the basics. This week, in fact, is their last. They went over grooming, putting on the tack, leading, balancing, and even some trotting. The appreciation for the horses by the riders says it all. Even the quieter students have begun talking to their assigned horses while grooming.

“If I can help people get away from all the craziness, that’s what it’s all about,” Barret revealed. She works with a 4H group and also educates her daughter in working with horses. It is asked of the students when they walk through the door to let go of all their stress. What you bring into the interactions with the horse is what they give back to you.

Talking to Barret about her hopes for the work she is doing alongside Wells College students, we learned that she would like Wells College and Healing H’Arts to grow together. She even brought up the hope for a Horse Club. Not just for riding, but for students that want to enjoy the horse in all capacities, whether that is grooming them, working with them, or even volunteering to work them as sidewalkers and the like (in hippotherapy sessions).


Events List

15th May 2018, Tuesday, Volunteer Training from 6:00pm-8:00pm

28th and 29th July 2018, Barn Sale (with space to rent for Rt. 90 sale vendors)

6th October 2018, Barn Blessing and BBQ Fundraiser  



Written by Greg T. Miraglia

Autism and Developmental Disability Conference (ADDC)

On the 7th of April 2018

An intrepid Boy Scout, Lance Davenport is running the Autism and Developmental Disability Conference (ADDC) in Weedsport, New York at the Weedsport Junior-Senior High School. The conference involves speakers for the attendees along with activities for  developmental disabled individuals and their family. The conference proves to be an educational and beneficial resource for people wishing to learn more about services, resources, and strategies for people with developmental disabilities.

They plan to have a bunch of saddc-poster.pngpeakers from different sides of the professional world. One speaker, Marilyn Chadwick, a speech/language pathologist that runs BodySpeaks will be there. Marilyn Chadwick has worked all over the world with the disable, using and teaching Facilitated Communication Training (FCT) to help better the lives of her clients.

Another speaker will be Kathy Fagan, a coach for a Special Olympics swim team, Cayuga Swimming will be at the conference speaking on her work and experience.

Of Course, Healing H’Arts CEO and head therapist, Kirsta Malone will be there to speak on hippotherapy and the wonderful progress she has witnessed from it. Kirsta Malone works with a wide range of clients through hippotherapy and has also opened her work up in away others can learn to do what she does.

A speech pathologist, hippotherapist, and a swim coach are just to a start; the ADDC promises to have more speakers from a variety of professions involved in working toward bettering the lives of people with Autism and other disabilities.  

Among the activities listed are swimming in the pool and art activities. Don’t forget to grab those swim suits and towels if you wish to participate. Besides that, there will be therapy dogs. There will be plenty to see and do, and learn. 

This event is not just for educators and families’ with disabled individuals. If you, yourself work in the health field or find that this conference has benefits to your life or profession, then come. To be educated is to understand and work toward a future for everybody.  

The event is Saturday, the 7th of April 2018 from 10am-2pm.


#HHarts Event Calendar:

7th April 2018, The ADDC in Weedsport, NY
28th April 2018, The Sap Run/Walk 5K and Pancakes in Union Springs, NY
6th October 2018, Barn Blessing and BBQ Fundraiser in Union Springs, NY


Written by Greg T. Miraglia

Animal Assisted Training

Tuesday the 27th of February

Healing H’Arts Equestrian Center hosted an Animal Assisted Therapy course for students from Ithaca College. Kirsta Malone ran a demonstration with a willing client and two other associates beside her therapy horse, Rosebud. Kirsta ran the appointment mostly as she would of, with the only exception being, her stopping and giving the observing students an in-depth understanding of why she is doing what she is doing.   

The small group of Ithaca students were from all around; a good portion came from New York State, while others hailed from places like Massachusetts and Connecticut. They were supervised by Assistant Professor Anna Grasso of Ithaca College’s Department of Occupational Therapy. Assistant Professor Grasso was herself a 2009 graduate from Ithaca College where she came back to help educate others in her chosen field. She offered that “although OT’s don’t usually use animals, they can be a good tool” to understand. Kirsta at one point allowed Assistant Professor Grasso to act as a side-walker holding the clients foot in the stirrups.

Before this course Assistant Professor Grasso and her students (graduate students), gained assisted animal experience working with Ithaca’s Guiding Eyes for the blind program. Most of the students were new to the idea of working with horses, especially in the capacity of occupational therapy.

One student, Zihui Adams had four years of Summer camp riding and had volunteered at a riding therapy place while in high school. This proved not all the students were new comers to the idea of using horses in occupational therapy. Zihui and the other students watched as Kirsta directed the activity and her horse leader, Maddie Clark led Rosebud, the butterscotch coloured horse with the client atop. The day’s session ran for three hours, however the course itself is a ten week look at what it’s like out in the field with animals and clients, as well as the good that can be done putting the two together.

Assistant Professor Grasso said, “in person, hearing from an expert like Kirsta is important for the students,” and expressed the hopes that the students will learn the benefits of using animals in occupational therapy. For clients, it is “functionally… useful for learning routine and responsibility, which will translate into other life activities,” said Assistant Professor Grasso.

Talking to the students toward the end of their session, they seemed to enjoy the “hands on” approach and they agreed that they would recommend this course to future Ithaca students in the Occupational Therapy program. When finishing up with his appointment, the client, after feeding Rosebud a carrot, told the student, “goodbye, it was nice to meet you all.”   


Written by Greg T. Miraglia

2nd Annual 5K Sap Run/Walk

Come run or walk on the 28th of April at 10 am.


Healing H’Arts Annual Sap Run Flyer 2018

The links underneath the pictures will take you to the printable documents. Come help Healing H’Arts in order to help others. At 1 pm there will be pancakes as well. A nice country air run and some delicious pancakes.


Healing H’Arts Annual Sap Run Flyer 2018 page 2

Take a look at our event page on Facebook. We will be updating on there.

Recap on event dates:

-This event on 28th April 2018
-6th October 2018 is the Barn Blessing and BBQ


Written and posted by Greg T. Miraglia

The New Building! The Official Healing H’arts Equestrian Center!

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Building the barn began in July 2017.



The Healing H’arts Equestrian Center building was opened up for lessons on the 1st of September 2017. Our ramp for mounting the horses is finished. We have stables built on the inside of the Center for the horses, as well as outdoor stables in the rear of the Center.


We have an upcoming event later this year. The Barn Blessing and BBQ event, which will function as an open house and fundraiser on 6th October 2018. Mark your calendar and we will see you on the 6th of October.


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Posted by Greg T. Miraglia

Horse of the Year 2017

“Unmarked”- Never

When I got the call, I was quick to say, “No.” However, with some coaxing I agreed to “take a look.”  My best friend was going through a divorce and desperately wanted an outlet.  Maybe a horse could help?  I took her with me to look at horses. If we could find the right horse for her, I offered to keep the horse with my others and she could pay for its feed and care.

The horse we found was a flaming red color with a bleach blond mane and tail that looked like she had spent too much time at the beach in the wind and sun.  Big, kind eyes welcomed us to put our hands on her.

“What’s her name,” my friend asked Mr. Minnoe, Sr.

“Ginger- She’s a registered appaloosa.”  My look of questioning prompted him, “I have her papers. I can get them for you.”  This horse had no identifying Appaloosa markings.  Not one.  Ginger enjoyed our coddling and we were soon hooked.  My friend took her home to my barn.

Weeks later, Mr. Minnoe, Sr. appeared at my door with the papers.  I politely took them, but didn’t think much of it since we loved her despite her unmarkings as an Appaloosa.  However, later my curiosity got the best of me and I took the papers out.  What were the chances? Ginger was a 1987 foal born at Harold Christensen’s farm in Penn Yan, NY.  In 1987, I was a teenager still living at home with my parent’s right around the corner from Harold Christensen’s farm.  Every spring I would ride my bike over to see the new foals. My dad was Harold’s veterinarian and would occasionally take me on call with him to get an up-close view of the horses (and dairy cows).

The interesting thing about that era and its relationship to Ginger was that Appaloosa breeders wanted to dual register their Appaloosas as quarter horses.  This new breeding inadvertently bred the characteristic markings of an Appaloosa out.  Ginger was one of those results.  It wasn’t long before horse people complained and the breeding world put the spots back on the Appaloosas.

My friend enjoyed Ginger when she could for the first couple of years, but life happened, she remarried, and moved away. Ginger had become a part of our horsey family and deserved to stay in her geriatric years where people understood and loved her.  As the business grew in riding lessons and hippotherapy, I found myself needing another good mount.  Could Ginger find a new job this late in her life?  With little training, I started using her for lessons with typical children.  She was quiet and attentive to the smallest and shyest students.  Her response to an anxious situation was a loud “snort.”

In 2017 Ginger, again, changed her job description to therapy horse.  Once again, she exceeded my expectations of a retired broodmare.  Ginger carried some of our toughest clients with autism.  Her connection with them amazed us all as we watched language and self-organization skills being developed.  Horse handlers breathed a sigh of relief when they worked with her because they knew Ginger had their backs.  Everyone’s only complaint was that Ginger was too slow.

One student, in particular, had a special relationship with Ginger.  Her name is Ella.  As a larger child, she could no longer ride the pony, Sassy, who had been her mount for 3 years. Ginger was my next choice.  Ella was very nervous.  It was a long way up for this young heart with gravitational insecurity (afraid of heights). Ella required the tallest part of the ramp and a little extra physical assistance to mount Ginger. Two times around the arena and Ella relaxed.  Getting down was another challenge; our mount standing square and quiet, Ella lifted her right leg over the crest (neck) of the horse so she sat side-saddle on Ginger. I “hugged” her around the waist and brought her down as gently as possible.

As the weeks went on, Ella got more confident with getting on and even learned to dismount the typical leg over the back way.  She enjoyed trotting for short distances and was beginning to learn how to post the trot (go up and down to the beat). My pride in her accomplishments swelled.

There was one more goal, cantering. Cantering is faster than a trot, but slower than a gallop. On a beautiful early fall day our opportunity arose.  Ella was ready. I talked her through it. I promised her I would stay by her side. We eased into the trot and then gave Ginger the cue to canter.  It was the smoothest transition I had ever witnessed.  I cantered next to her and both of us smiled from ear to ear.  She did it. She really did it. It was the #BestDayEver! Ginger earned the gold star that day and I will never forget it.  The heart of a child soared because of this beautiful horse with no markings.

Ginger the Horse (2)                                                    (Photo: Kirsta and Ginger at work.)

Fall pressed on and Ginger’s weight began to fall away again.  Thirty years of service had taken its toll on her body.  Her fistulated rectum oozed smells and sounds that were downright unrecognizable. It was time for her retirement. I had to consider the winter ahead and the health of my prized horse. It wasn’t fair for her to suffer. On November 7, 2017, at 30 years old, I said “good-bye” to my faithful friend who touched so many lives.  It was not the good-bye I had planned.

My heart still hurts that her remains did not stay on the farm.  I promised her she would never leave her home. But, it was time. I couldn’t watch her suffer one more day.There is one more thing to do… honor Ginger as “Horse of the Year 2017.”  I hope her riders will fondly remember the big red horse with wind-blown beach mane who snorted at things that were unfamiliar.  The horse with the heart of gold who made her riders feel safe and welcome.

Thank you Ginger, I love you.



Written by Kirsta Malone. Edited and Posted by Greg T. Miraglia.