MEMPHIS, Tenn. —Every Tuesday as part of our Community Changers series, we shine a light on people and organizations making a difference in our community. This week, we caught up with a group that celebrates ability and individuality.

Every Wednesday you’ll find Clark Tompkins saddled up on Shiloh, a therapy horse at Southern Reins. Clark has mild cerebral palsy. Clark’s parents, Cheryl and Tom were looking for activities to help strengthen his core.  

“As Clark is getting older, cerebral palsy is having an effect on his body but riding is kind of offsetting that. Gives him strength in his legs where he grips the horse. Core strength,” Tom Tompkins said.

Southern Reins center for equine therapy uses horses to help individuals with cognitive, physical and emotional disabilities. Their programs are adaptive and the instructors tailor each lesson to the abilities of the participants.

Jordan Walker is the director of development and communications.

“There is something really special about horses. And there is something really special about the human/horse connection,” Jordan said. “They’re working on flexibility and core strength and mobility. Not just on the horse but they can go home and they can do their own laundry, brush their own teeth. They can have all these skills that are transferable into their everyday lives.”

When we caught up with Clark, he was taking part in the adaptive horseback riding program.

“They have them reach for things. They have them balance. They put their arms out which really begins to develop the core,” Tom said.

“I’m thrilled of the fact that he is getting stronger. If we miss a few times, you can see the difference in his balance,” Cheryl said.

It’s not just inside the arena, but they also get to take trail rides and even brush down the horses.

“Just watching him doing the brushing today, I could tell he was… everyone seemed calm and it was relaxing,” Cheryl said.

That is why our anonymous donor wanted to give Southern Reins Center for Equine Therapy a thousand dollars.

Because when you celebrate what people can do versus pointing out what they can’t, you truly empower and inspire through the healing power of horses.

A true community changer.