Good Works Honoree Provides for Therapeutic Riding Center

The American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) celebrates the service Shawn Dolan. DVM, has demonstrated through her long-term relationship with the Cheff Therapeutic Riding Center. Dolan of Augusta, Mich., was selected as the final Good Works For Horses Campaign honoree for the month of September.

Dolan started volunteering at the Cheff Center when she was 15 years old. After a frightening experience with a mentally handicapped man, she developed a fear of disabled individuals. Using horses as a medium make contact with mentally and physically handicapped children, Dolan overcame her fear and developed a lasting relationship with the Center that would carry over into her profession.

Twenty-six years later, Dolan continues to repay the Center for its part helping her overcome her adolescent fear by providing comprehensive veterinary services and chiropractic care to its horses. Since 2006, she has visited the Center once a week to fulfill its veterinary needs and provide low-cost medications to its 16 therapeutic riding horses. As a specialist in equine chiropractics, Dolan offers routine chiropractic care to relieve pain that occurs in horses bearing the weight of special needs riders.

Dolan's dedication to the Center extends beyond providing free veterinary care. In addition, she gives educational seminars about equine health care topics, including stretching techniques, early disease or injury detection and prevention, and work routines. These seminars are available to Center staff members, volunteers, and members of the public. She also supports the non-profit organization by getting involved in fundraising initiatives and events. She recruits sponsors for the Center's fundraising events and has competed in horse shows with her own Quarter Horse mare to raise money for the cause.

Dolan works beyond the call of her practice because she believes in the power of therapeutic riding. She's seen children and adults make significant developmental progress through the Center's programs. She is especially inspired when watching veterans of war benefit from their interactions with horses.

"I believe in the therapeutic healing power of the horse," Dolan said. "It's really cool to see older gentlemen in wheelchairs without horse experience really looking forward to coming out every week. Some of them can't even ride, but just being around the horses is therapeutic for them."

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