Stories

Here are some stories from parents and volunteers talking about how STAR Riders has helped them.
  • Hello from Lottie K. I was writing because I wanted to thank you and Ray for the amazing experience and knowledge that you provided during my time with Star Riders.  Currently I live in ...
    Posted Jul 15, 2016, 4:08 PM by Bill G Fitler
  • Cyndy's Story about her Class My name is Cindy Diaz and I teach a special day class at Gladys Stone School in Marina , California. My class has been participating in the Star Rider program for ...
    Posted Jul 9, 2010, 8:30 PM by Bill G Fitler
  • Ellie's Story In August 2007 our little family moved to the Monterey area. Ellie was just 3 ½ years old, but clearly a resilient 3 ½ because moving didn’t phase her at all ...
    Posted Jul 9, 2010, 8:10 PM by Bill G Fitler
  • Faith and Lane's Story Magic Taking on Reality About a year ago last summer, Theresa and Brian Newbold took their children to Christine Marie’s Star Riders. Faith and Lane had both been diagnosed ...
    Posted Jul 9, 2010, 8:13 PM by Bill G Fitler
  • Norman's Story I am writing in support for the Star Rider Horse Therapy program generously sponsored by Linda and Ray Martin for the developmentally challenged, injured, or afflicted in this area that ...
    Posted Jul 9, 2010, 8:09 PM by Bill G Fitler
Showing posts 1 - 5 of 6. View more »

Hello from Lottie K.

posted Jul 15, 2016, 4:08 PM by Bill G Fitler

I was writing because I wanted to thank you and Ray for the amazing experience and knowledge that you provided during my time with Star Riders. 
 
Currently I live in Arizona and I work for the Scottsdale Police Department as an Officer. Recently I graduated with my certification for the Mounted Unit. I currently work as a reserve unit for Mounted Patrol.
 
During my time training with them I just felt so lucky to have the experience that I gained while working with you guys. The knowledge and skill that I obtained led to me being a highly sought after candidate for the unit. I an the youngest and most junior officer to become part of the unit.
 
I learned all the basics and more while at Star Rider, and this led me to have a passion for learning more about riding and the world of horses. I wanted to share some photos with you :)
 
Thank you guys so much for such a wonderful time in my life. With out it, I would not be where I am today. I think of you often and have fond memories. 
 
Lottie




Cyndy's Story about her Class

posted Jul 9, 2010, 8:00 PM by Bill G Fitler   [ updated Jul 9, 2010, 8:30 PM ]

My name is Cindy Diaz and I teach a special day class at Gladys Stone School in Marina , California. My class has been participating in the Star Rider program for around 5 years. I have seen amazing progress with the children in my classroom such as increased speech and language development, improvements in gross motor abilities and a boost in self confidence.

The children placed into my classroom have orthopedic impairments, hearing impairments, and are blind or visually impaired. All of the students placed in my classroom have developmental disabilities. One of my students who is totally blind loves to ride on the horse , it is his favorite day of the week. He loves to touch and feel the horse’s main and is very vocal when he is riding. Another one of my students came into my program not able to walk independently. She is now walking everywhere without the use of her walker. She also is now able to sit tall in the saddle. When she first started to ride she needed a lot of support such as a special sheepskin blanket and full adult assistant to sit upright in the saddle. Her father attributes much of her success with the Star Rider Program.

As a classroom teacher for children with severe disabilities, The Star Riders Program has become such a rich part of my classroom curriculum. Linda and Ray Martin are very flexible and really work around our classroom schedule. Linda even loaned us one of the saddles and a helmet from the program to help acclimate the students before we started the program. My classroom at Gladys Stone School is very thankful that the Star Riders Program is available in our community.

Ellie's Story

posted Jul 9, 2010, 7:53 PM by Bill G Fitler   [ updated Jul 9, 2010, 8:10 PM ]

In August 2007 our little family moved to the Monterey area. Ellie was just 3 ½ years old, but clearly a resilient 3 ½ because moving didn’t phase her at all. I wish it was so easy for grown-ups!

As soon as we were settled in I began the daunting task of placing her in a pre-school and getting all of her services in place. She was eventually enrolled at AB Ingham and I attended the first IEP in our new location. That was the day I was introduced to Star Riders. Thank you sincerely, to Mr. Stan Cook, for that.

I called the number I’d been given and talked to Linda Martin. She told me how and why Star Riders came to be and the kinds of miracles that happen. I couldn’t wait to get Ellie on a horse.

Our first few weeks at Star Riders were…loud. Ellie had turned 4 but was only functioning at about an 8 -12 month level. She was born with severe hearing loss, poor muscle tone and balance, and she could neither stand nor walk unaided at age 4. Let’s just say that Ellie wasn’t keen on the idea of riding and I learned the meaning of tough love in no uncertain terms.

However, with loads of support and encouragement from the people at Star Riders, we persevered and, after a month or so, Ellie relaxed into riding and really began to enjoy it.

This is Ellie’s 3rd year at Star Riders and, looking back, she’s a different kid. She now sits tall and straight. She will ride for hours if you let her, much to the exhaustion of the volunteers. She can now stand unaided and is walking unaided and is beginning to use signs and to vocalize. She also smiles and giggles a lot and loves engaging the people around her. Three years ago I would never have imagined Ellie would be where she is now. She is definitely one of the Star Rider miracles... and the story continues...

Faith and Lane's Story

posted Jul 9, 2010, 7:41 PM by Bill G Fitler   [ updated Jul 9, 2010, 8:13 PM ]

Magic Taking on Reality

About a year ago last summer, Theresa and Brian Newbold took their children to Christine Marie’s Star Riders. Faith and Lane had both been diagnosed with hyperthyroidism, which means they missed developmental milestones such as crawling or tumbling. Lane was born 31 weeks premature, and Faith had hydrocephalus, which is increased fluid on the brain. Medically, neither of these children should be smiling, happy, walking children right now. If you go to the equestrian center, then that is exactly what you will see.

After Faith’s OT suggested Star Riders, Theresa and her children met with some of the workers. Once the paperwork was filled out, Theresa started taking the children once a week. Within a month, Lane had started walking. “This program is magical,” Theresa said.

Besides Lane walking, there were other benefits, more pronounced in Faith. She had greater trunk control, greater self-confidence, and she started to come into herself both physically and as a young lady ready to enter the world. Faith also found a friend at Star Riders, by name of Katie.

Faith loves all of the horses. She usually asks for Dolly, Star, or Gunner. Her favorite game is “Red Light, Green Light,” which is exactly like the game played in gyms or scouts except on horses. When I was walking her, she kept asking to go a little longer. When I asked her how it felt to be on Gunner, she said “it feels good.”

I asked Theresa why she kept coming back, besides the overwhelming positive results for her children. Her answer assured me that she had complete heart and faith in Star Riders, to the point where you couldn’t help but come back. Faith is 4 years old now, and Lane is 2. Miracles and magic still happen, if you know where to look. Faith and Lane’s grandmother was also extremely involved in this program. You may have heard the story already. A lady affiliated with the program was on a plane. The person she was sitting next to happened to be a representative for an equine association in Las Vegas. Faith and Lane’s grandmother was the one that talked to the lady on the plane and managed to procure the funds for a badly needed ramp. A warm and heartfelt thanks for that.

Interviewee: Theresa Newbold

Written by Cheryl Karoly


Norman's Story

posted Jul 9, 2010, 7:40 PM by Bill G Fitler   [ updated Jul 9, 2010, 8:09 PM ]

I am writing in support for the Star Rider Horse Therapy program generously sponsored by Linda and Ray Martin for the developmentally challenged, injured, or afflicted in this area that utilize their facility for recreational and functional sport. As a co-sponsor of this wonderful program the city of Marina should be proud of the accomplishments this program has afforded the many disabled students of Monterey County. This program provides equestrian therapy that takes advantage of the psychological and physiological effect of riding horses to improve the condition of our disabled and injured children of Monterey County.

The horse is a means for social and therapeutic exchanges between the child and the animal. In this therapy the horse acts as a living therapeutically equipment. In this therapy movement characteristics of the horse is used as a physiotherapeutic tool. This movement provides many children the opportunity to be challenged through physical and sensory processes and provides input unavailable elsewhere. The result is best demonstrated by the children who have begun to utilize postural control to sit upright, balance themselves during movement, and to use both arms for coordinated movements not demonstrated elsewhere. It has provided children restricted to wheelchairs to experience movement opportunities to increase stability and responsively to the demands of their physical environment. The movement of the horse has a calming effect on autistic and sensory challenged children. Equestrian gymnastics coupled with physiotherapeutic rides engage the cooperation between the horse and child which has been demonstrated to provide verbal, physical, psychological, and social values that can be used to further the development of the child.

The program is administered by professionals dedicated to the children and the adults of Monterey County with special needs. They are well trained, educated, and compassionate in their efforts to provide opportunities to advance those most in need in this county. Ray and Linda Martin have a wealth of experience with the special needs population and provides a safe and secure environment for growth and development. It affords those with special needs a physical, developmental, and social outlet to develop and experience life in a more meaningful and fulfilling way.

To experience the change in the physical, developmental, and most importantly social aspect of children attending the therapeutic horse riding program during the past three years has been a wonderful experience. I fully support the continued evolution of this program and congratulate the Martin’s and the City of Marina in the quest to provide meaningful opportunities for those less fortunate in our society. The County of Monterey and the City of Marina is fortunate to have this program available and I fully support this facility, especially the professionals that volunteer their time and love to help those less fortunate in our society.
-Norman Larson

Christine's Story

posted Jul 9, 2010, 7:39 PM by Bill G Fitler   [ updated Jul 9, 2010, 8:12 PM ]

Following the Tale of a Star

Before Christine Marie, there were Star Riders. I had the chance to interview Linda, who is the current Program Director of Star Riders. I only hope I can give credit to the amazing story that she told me.

At 6 months old, Christine was starting to have severe seizures. When Linda took her to the hospital, she was told Christine should spend the rest of her life in an institution. She was diagnosed through MRIs with tuberscleorsis. It is close to the Elephant Man disease, in that tubers develop in the body and in the brain. The tubers harden and grow with age.

When she was 3 years old, Linda put her on the back of a horse. She realized that it was on horseback that she had the best communication with Christine. At 5 years old, Christine started to talk and sing.

When Christine was 16 years old, one of her two brain tumors grew. Hydrocephalus also developed, and a brain operation was done. About that time, Linda was introduced to the horse program at Easter Seal. Easter was the director of a program that was for other-abled children: an equestrian therapy program called Star Riders. Easter was also a cancer survivor. Unfortunately, the cancer in Christine had moved to the colon.

That is when the Make-A-Wish foundation stepped in. Make-A-Wish sent Christine and her family to Hawaii so Christine could swim with her much beloved dolphins. She passed away in the year 2000. Christine Marie Martin died at the age of 19.

This is 2006. A couple years or so after Christine’s departure, the program was handed to Linda. Star Riders currently serves over 100 children, all on the shoulders of volunteers and grants. This is an equestrian therapy program, but it offers more social support than the world of academia. Before this happened though, the program was renamed “Christine Marie’s Star Riders.” When I asked Linda how she could keep coming back to this, she gave me a humbling answer. “I see her smile on the faces of the kids. Sometimes when they give me hugs, she’s there too. And I know she’s up in heaven, looking down on us.”

One of the first horses Linda bought, Mona Lisa, was actually purchased from a CSUMB student. Val is also a former CSUMB student, who came to the program 2 years ago. She liked what she saw, and you can still see her just about anytime you’re there. Ida and Gary started riding with Linda and Christine when she was alive. There was a mutual bond, and they started going to classes together to learn how to work with their community and gained knowledge of what their children were diagnosed with. Although Christine is gone, there is always the hope for a better future.

Interviewee: Linda Martin

Written by Cheryl Karoly, 2006



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