In normal times, Shining Stars offers equine therapy sessions to people whose healing is helped by riding and interacting with horses.
During this stay-at-home period when its stable is off-limits, the ministry is inviting anyone who wants a virtual encounter with horses to tune in via Facebook on Wednesdays and Fridays.
Beginning Wednesday, April 15, at 2 p.m., 10-minute sessions will “bring you directly into the barn so you can meet some of our equine volunteers,” said Brandy Crago, executive director of Gettysburg’s Shining Stars Therapeutic Ministries.
“The herd is anxious to be introduced and you will learn a few fun facts about horses. Be sure to join us and see why horses do what they do,” Crago urged the public.
While its regular activities engaging special needs people, the elderly and military veterans in riding and tending horses are suspended, the ministry is far from idle.
The staff of Shining Stars “has been delivering milk, groceries, and finding other creative ways to stay in touch with our special needs families,” Crago said.
“We’re doing as much as we can,” she said.
Volunteers are caring for children whose parents may be hospitalized, stepping in for nannies who cannot travel, and in other ways helping some of the most vulnerable amidst the COVID-19 crisis.
The ministry is also eager to bring a little cheer into the lives of folks who are sequestered and may be in need of a smile.
Shining Stars’ adorable miniature horses have been posing for pictures, which have been made into postcards.
“If a postcard from Shining Stars minis would brighten up someone’s day we would love to know. Just call or email us with a name and mailing address and we will send a postcard to their home,” Crago said.
Suggestions of postcard recipients may be made by calling 717-451-9509 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Involving horses in healing of humans can be traced back to ancient Greece. Literature of the 17th century indicates therapeutic riding was recommended for various ailments, including low morale.
Riding therapy to help with physical healing gained momentum in the United States during the 1950s. Equine-assisted psychotherapy began to take hold in the 1990s, and Shining Stars is among the pioneers in its adaptation to ministry with special needs people.
In 2004, Crago had concluded her career as a stunt performer who rode horses in circuses and wild west shows throughout the country.
When her pastor at Freedom Valley Church challenged her to envision a new calling and offered church property, she founded Shining Stars Ministries, the mission of which is “specializing in therapeutic horsemanship programs with a heart to promote healing, hope and happiness.”
More information about the ministry located at 3185 York Road west of Gettysburg is available at its website, www.shiningstarstr.com.