In second year at new location, Reins to Recovery continues to grow


In the past year, a local nonprofit organization has grown with the addition of a staff member, creation of a satellite location and construction of half of an outdoor covered arena.

Chantel Seale was hired by Reins to Recovery Inc. Therapeutic Riding Center in July 2017 as a part-time registered therapeutic riding instructor and continues to work with five clients.

The satellite location in Lexington is a nonriding facility for the equine-assisted psychotherapy program, allowing clients in Scott and Jefferson counties to be served.

[sc:text-divider text-divider-title=”Story continues below gallery” ]Click here to purchase photos from this gallery

Money from grants and sponsors resulted in half of the 120-by-80-foot main arena to be covered.

Calli Johnson, who founded Reins to Recovery in 2008 and is the executive director, is glad to see progress continue since the facility moved to Reddington two years ago.

The addition of Seale bumps the number of paid staff members to four. There also are two contracted licensed therapists for the programs for victims of violence and abuse.

“It’s always a good thing to see growth in our programs,” Johnson said. “(Seale) has been a blessing to our program just because we were able to bring in more clients from our waiting list by utilizing her in the evening hours.”

Seale works with clients from 4:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesdays. Janette Coulter is the other registered therapeutic riding instructor.

“It’s nice to have a couple of different instructors because they all have their own style of the way that they teach,” Johnson said. “We’re working with a diverse population, so why not have a diverse facility that offers the instructors with the same thing to meet the needs of all of our clients that we serve? It has just been really nice to have her on board, even if it’s once a week part time.”

Johnson said Coulter’s weekly caseload reached its maximum, so the time was right when Seale reached out last summer about joining the staff.

“I hadn’t yet explored options, but it was a needed time, so it just kind of fit,” Johnson said. “Five individuals doesn’t sound like maybe a whole lot, but that’s a lot for our clients out here as far as this program goes.”

Monday through Friday, Reins to Recovery serves between 50 and 60 clients among all of its programs at both locations. Johnson said that number has doubled since this time a year ago.

Seale, 27, is a Washington County native. After graduating from West Washington High School in 2009, she earned an associate degree in occupational therapy from Brown Mackie College in Indianapolis.

Her full-time job with the Ripley-Ohio-Dearborn Special Education Cooperative involves providing occupational therapy for kids in preschool through 12th grade, and she works part time for the First Steps early intervention program along with being on the Reins to Recovery staff.

Being around horses since she was in elementary school, Seale combined that interest with her occupational therapy job by earning her registered therapeutic riding instructor certification last summer in Bloomington.

With plans of getting married and moving to North Vernon, she looked in the area for the closest barn. That’s when she learned about Reins to Recovery.

“It all came full circle,” she said. “I did the occupational therapy, and I was excited about that. Then I was like, ‘Whoa! Wait, there’s an equine-assisted learning therapeutic approach to this, as well?’ Then it was just kind of like, ‘Well, God, has been looking over me’ because the stars aligned. I feel very, very honored to do what I do.”

Seeing the progress of her five clients has been rewarding, she said.

“That’s what keeps you going, even if it’s the very smallest little bit of progress,” she said. “For me, what I love to see is just their empowerment. At any moment, I can take away a little assistance or do something that’s so little to us but big to them. That empowerment is so big. … That little progress each time to build off of ends up being huge by the end of the session, and you don’t even realize it.”

A facility like Reins to Recovery is important because programming allows clients to improve physically, socially and emotionally, Seale said.

“I think it’s huge because you don’t always get that opportunity to combine a 1,000-pound animal with these little skills that are huge in the grand scheme of life,” she said. “It’s big. It’s impacting for the community, it’s impacting for the children, so I think it’s vital.”

As important as the instructors are, Johnson said volunteers are equally critical to keeping Reins to Recovery going. That includes having sidewalkers and horse leaders to assist with lessons from noon to 8 p.m. weekdays.

“We do all of the training here at the barn,” Johnson said. “You don’t have to have horse experience.”

Volunteers also are needed to help with maintenance, repairs, mowing and weedeating.

“Volunteers truly are the heart and soul of this program, and it takes an army,” Johnson said.

She also is happy to see the first phase of the main arena completed. The next phase will be to have it completely covered, which would cost another $30,000.

“Now, we just really want to focus on sustainability of our programs that are growing,” Johnson said. “This (arena) isn’t going to be lost in that, but it’s just something that we’re transitioning over into now.

“We’ve got some programs and we’ve got the space to utilize, but we don’t want to put this on the backburner by any means,” she said. “Maybe within the next year, if we raise enough money to have something finished, that would be outstanding.”

[sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”At a glance” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]

Reins to Recovery Inc. Therapeutic Riding Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that offers therapeutic riding, equine-assisted psychotherapy, equine-assisted learning and recreational lessons to children and adults with disabilities, victims of violence and abuse and at-risk youth.

The center is at 10861 N. U.S. 31 north of Reddington.

For information or to find out about volunteer opportunities, call 812-350-4864, visit or find the organization on Facebook.


No posts to display