Museum to celebrate rich history of horses in Gables

Museum to celebrate rich history of horses in Gables
Museum to celebrate rich history of horses in Gables
Nancy Batchelor and her favorite horse, Cairo during award presentation at the Winter Equestrian Festival.
(Photo Credit: Brooke Giacin, BGiacin Photos)

Polo, foxhunting, show jumping and dressage — noted historian Arva Moore Parks McCabe will discuss the rich history of horses in Coral Gables on Nov. 13 at the Coral Gables Museum.

Hosted by equestrian enthusiasts Nancy Batchelor, Sissy DeMaria Koehne and Christy Powell, and presented by title sponsor MG Developer, along with support from the Coral Gables Museum, The Batchelor Foundation, Christy and Earl Powell, The Peebles Corporation, Coral Gables Trust, Coral Gables Community Foundation, and Kreps DeMaria, the evening will serve as a benefit for Give Back for Special Equestrians an all-volunteer organization that provides therapeutic horseback riding scholarships for disabled children and veterans in Florida and New York.

Arva Moore Parks McCabe will discuss one of the original dimensions of Coral Gables founder George Merrick’s dream — the importance of horses in the social and sporting life of his new city. Beginning in the 1920s, the City Beautiful played host to elaborate foxhunting parties with foxes imported from northern Virginia, Sunday morning breakfast rides, and competitive high goal polo matches while the nearby Coral Gables Academy’s stable, once located at the current site of Ruth Chris restaurant, at the northwest corner of Salzedo Street and Giralda Avenue, offered lessons in hunt seat equitation and dressage to denizens of Coral Gables.

Dr. Peggy Bass, the executive director of Good Hope Equestrian Training Center, and the therapy stable partner of Give Back for Special Equestrians, also will take the podium to discuss the history of Hippotherapy, literally meaning treatment with the help of a horse, from the Greek word hippos meaning horse. Hippotherapy dates back to the ancient Greeks when it was used to help wounded soldiers recover from their injuries.

Current concepts of Hippotherapy have developed from earlier principles, developed in Germany and practiced widely throughout Europe since the 1960s. Dr. Bass will speak to how the therapy is transforming the lives of disabled children and veterans by helping them overcome some of life’s most difficult hurdles such as autism, paralysis and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

The movement of the horse is the strategy that a therapist uses to improve a patient’s neuromotor function. The patient may be positioned astride the horse facing forward or backward, sitting sideways, lying prone or supine. The patient interacts with, and actively responds to the horse’s movement. The therapist continuously analyze the patient’s responses and adjust accordingly the manner in which the horse is moving.

Positive effects from the movement of the horse can be seen in motor coordination, muscle tone, postural alignment, stiffness/flexibility and strength. Other effects on body systems can and do occur as well. Changes are often seen in the respiratory, cognitive, sensory processing, balance, affective, arousal and speech/language production functions.

“Thanks to the combined generosity of our sponsors we will be able to provide more than 10 therapeutic horseback riding scholarships to deserving children and veterans so they can experience the many benefits of horsepower that heals,” said DeMaria Koehne, founder of Give Back for Special Equestrians who along with Batchelor and Powell will present a check to Good Hope Equestrian Training Facility.

For more information about Give Back for Special Equestrians call 305-608-5350 or visit

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