Horsemanship camp offers healing

LIHUE — A passion for helping kids is why Karin Stoll started Healing Horses Kauai in 2001 and, next week, students will have the opportunity to participate in a horsemanship camp while they’re on break from school.

“We do horseback riding, but we teach them how to groom, how to feed, how to be safe around the horses,” said Stoll, a clinical social worker. “We have goats that come, a lady named Sam Henriques has two goats that pull carts and so they get to go for a ride around the pond in the cart.”

Stoll, who has a private practice in town with a focus on helping children, started leasing a horse in 2001 and took youth to where he was pastured. She noticed them getting better.

At that time, Stoll said she didn’t know about therapeutic riding, but when she found out there were programs on the mainland offering the services and certifications for it, she got certified.

“Since then, the kids have been coming for years and getting better,” she said.

But it’s not just the kids who get better at Healing Horses Kauai, Stoll said.

“Everybody’s got something going on and everyone gets better here. Everyone walks out of this place happy with a smile. There’s just something about being around a horse,” she said.

One of Stoll’s favorite stories is about a young adult who is a paraplegic and came to the facility with a group of adults, and each of them had a parent or someone with them to help.

“So I’m setting the stage, we’ve got three people on each horse. Then we went to the guys in the wheelchairs. The last young man we put up was wheelchair-bound. He was a paraplegic. We got him up there gingerly, took our time. We explained to him ‘you’re in charge,’” she said.

She explained to him that in order to get the horse to walk, you say “walk,” and to get the horse to stop, you say the word “woah.” Eventually, the rider commanded the horse to walk.

“We started moving and, sure enough, we went around the corner and the entire peanut gallery was weeping and, finally, one of the facilitators of the program said, ‘He has never spoken a word in his life,’” Stoll said.

“The point is, you don’t know what people are taking in or what their capacity is to understand. It was a sweet, sweet story. There’s no end to how the kids benefit here,” Stoll said.

Everyone who volunteers at Helping Horses Kauai is there because they love watching the riders’ progress, she said.

The camp runs Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. each day. The cost of the camp is $45 for a single day, $40 a day for more than three days, and $40 a child for two or more siblings.

There are usually about 20 participants at the camp each day. They have six, full-sized horses and two miniature horses.

For more information about the horsemanship camp or to register, call 634-3896, or email hhkauai@gmail.com.

On Nov. 5, Healing Horses Kauai will be holding its annual gala at the Hukilau Lanai in Waipouli’s Kauai Coast Resort at the Beachboy. It will be a masquerade, so Stoll encourages everyone who plans on attending to wear a mask, or purchase at the door masks decorated by keiki.

Tickets are $50 for adults and $25 for children 12 and up. Younger children are free.

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Bethany Freudenthal, crime, courts and county reporter, can be reached at 652-7891 or bfreudenthal@thegardenisland.com.

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