Otis Horse Therapy Program Helps Its First Students 

Earlier this year we told you about an Otis woman who was starting a horse therapy program, to help teach children with autism and special needs.Last week the non-profit Springy Pond Farm kicked off its “Ride to Read” program, and welcomed its first official students.Today was seven-year-old Zach’s second visit to Springy Pond Farm in Otis. He has autism, and medical needs that at one time almost claimed his life. But now, his mother, Michelle Neal, says he’s doing well.”He talked about it all week. He loved it. He loves Jen too,” Neal says.Jennifer Cammack has been Zach’s occupational therapist for the past two years. Now she’s working with him in her “Ride to Read” program, using specially trained horses on her farm to help teach everything from life skills to letters and numbers.”It’s a ‘z.’ What sound does ‘z’ make? ‘zzzz.’ Very good!””We’re using the horse and the movement of the horse to facilitate attention and to stimulate a lot of language and learning in his brain,” Cammack says. “One of Zach’s greatest challenges is staying on task and attentive to something. Today’s session was three times as long as last week’s session so he’s already showing progress, which is really exciting.”Zach’s mom says the farm is about an hour-and-a half drive from her home, but she would drive even farther for a program that helps her son this much.”You can see how calm he is compared to before. He was all over the place,” Neal says. “Jen is awesome. We feel very blessed to have her as his OT, and this just feels, watching, it’s like a miracle.”Cammack says community support has helped the farm achieve its early success. Now the non-profit is actively fundraising to keep growing, and help more students attend when insurance doesn’t cover the entire cost. She says she couldn’t be happier to see Springy Pond Farm up and running. “Oh,” she says, “it’s my dream come true.”You can reach Springy Pond Farm at 356-2169, or online: