Inspiration Stables was founded by Sarah Weber Kumpf in September of 2017 as a culmination of years of experience with horses, special needs and business. Sarah saw an incredible opportunity to bring a life-giving, inspiring service to the Dubuque community by bringing horses and humans together to share in unique learning and growth experiences. The timing of Inspiration Stables' birth was due in great part to Sarah's horse, McCain. McCain needed a new job after years of competitive jumping work, and creating a place where he could help others' hearts the way he had Sarah's meant the world to her.
In building Inspiration Stables, Sarah carefully enlisted the help and guidance of people she was inspired to reach out to. The executive team and board were not people that she knew her whole life or had any stake in getting the program started. They were brought to her in order to set a solid foundation for an incredible organization to take hold. She is grateful for the amazing gift the team has been and how far they have taken Inspiration Stables already.
Our mission at Inspiration Stables is inspiring hearts and hooves to build lasting relationships to promote wellness, healing, self-expression and meaning. This mission speaks to the heart of why Sarah built this organization. She believes that horses have a unique power to help us as humans learn, heal, and grow to be better versions of ourselves through their inherent nature to live in the present and be mirrors to our inner selves. Our primary goal in our early years is to create a thriving therapeutic horseback riding program for children with special needs. As we grow, our mission allows us to expand to provide ever-changing services to anyone wanting to step outside their comfort zone to learn with a horse.
Our vision for the future is to expand to our own property with a healthy acreage where we can build a heated barn and indoor arena space to allow us to provide year round services to all who benefit from our mission. We plan to add hippotherapy services in 2019 in partnership with local therapy providers. We are continually expanding our equine-assisted learning programs to include team building, individual coaching, yoga, and more to come.
Please take the opportuntiy to see how you can join the Inspiration Stables family. There is a home for everyone within our family whether as a participant in equine-assisted activities, volunteer for lessons or horse care, committee member to help with special projects, someone to advocate for our services, donor to help a child participate who otherwise wouldn't be able to, or in any capacity you feel called. We appreciate what you uniquely bring to the table, and want you on our team!
Over the last few years since Hannah's Autism diagnosis I have struggled with the idea of the puzzle piece representing Autism. I would often question what it was supposed to mean? That our girl is missing s piece? That her pieces aren't fitting together? That something isn't just how it should be? To us Hannah is perfect just the way she is. Autism is just a unique piece of her personality not a piece that is broken. Recently I had a break through as I pondered over how far Hannah has come. Fourteen months ago she didn't make eye contact. A year ago she was completely nonverbal. Six months ago she didn't acknowledge peers and before she started riding lessons in September she didn't notice our family dog. The puzzle pieces aren't about who Hannah is or isn't. She is just exactly who she is a loving, singing, snugly, hilarious, ornery, stealthy, and whip smart beautiful young girl. The puzzle pieces are the programs that have given her the voice both literally and figuratively to share those parts of herself with us. For that we are incredibly blessed.
This Summer I looked into different options to help Hannah continue to grow. She needed to build core strength, fine motor skills, self-confidence and an understanding of personal space. We couldn't possibly fit in another therapy through the week days and she was already doing occupational therapy in school. She deserved a chance to connect with someone other than a teacher or parent. She needed to build a trusting bond while having the opportunity to lead. When Inspiration Stables was suggested I thought this might be the outside the box therapy she needed to tie all these things together. The moment she put that helmet on I knew she was in her element. Her smiles said it all.
Every week she sat taller in the saddle. She started using her commands "walk on" and "whoa" in class. I cried with overwhelming pride and she giggled with each trot. A few weeks into lessons Hannah started petting our dog. She would give him nice long strokes and say "good dog". One day in class she looked at the student sitting next to her and put her hand under his chin looking directly into his eyes! The next day she decided to stroked the shoulder of the student next to her. She was making the connections! Her fine motor skills started growing in leaps and bounds. After each lesson she was energized and excited. It has been such a beautiful experience to share. We can't wait to get back to riding this Spring. Thank you Inspiration Stables for all you have done for our family and our sweet Hannah. Your dedication is life changing!
Our first week of lessons, we had a young boy with autism come for his first horse experience ever. He is highly sensory, and the flies were making him very agitated. He wasn’t sure about being on the horse at first and was very nervous. After about ten minutes of walking on his horse, Myles took a deep breath, let out a sigh, and smiled. He found a happy place. When he came back the next week for his second lesson, I asked his mom how his week was, and she shared his incredible story: “Myles has 10 minutes of social skills class every day at school where he is supposed to talk conversationally and maintain eye contact. This is usually like pulling teeth. This week I got an email from his teacher telling me that he had openly shared about his horse, Julio. She asked if I could send some pictures of Myles and Julio. I did. His teacher helped him put together a short presentation about his riding experience to share with his social skills class. Myles did so well that he was able to present for his entire first grade class. He’s never done that before and usually struggles to connect with his classmates as he has very little in common with them. I can’t thank you enough.” During his third week of lessons it was very cold and windy, so we were all unsure of how Myles would do. He jumped right up on Julio and gave him a hug! He was completely unaffected by sensory interruptions.
Myles has continued riding with us every session offered since the very beginning. His family has gone through some difficult changes in the last year, but the relationship Myles has built with his horse and his very special volunteer who works with him weekly has helped him through and given him something fun to look forward to. Riding has changed his life!