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