Wednesday, March 22, 2023

'The Power of the Horse'


Mike and Twuana Raupp know “the power of the horse.” And that is why they founded Loving Thunder Therapeutic Riding, a non-profit organization whose mission is to “empower and improve the quality of life for people with mental and physical challenges through therapeutic horsemanship, equine assisted activities and educational outreach to all.”

“Participants that we have are children and adults with disabilities, could be a veteran with PTSD, could be a child with autism,” Twuana told the Sandoval County Commission in January. “It could be someone in a wheelchair, and we use the power of the horse to provide healing opportunities for them.”

The Raupps founded the Loving Thunder in 2008 after they discovered there were few such services to be found for their own daughter, especially ones that understood the goals of parents with special needs.

“We had our program in Rio Rancho for 13 years, and we’ve now been in Corrales for almost a year. So we’re quite pleased to continue to grow and provide more opportunities for the community,” Twuana said.

The Raupps came before the commission to secure Sandoval County as their fiscal agent. As a non-profit, they aren’t allowed to receive money directly from the government, and Loving Thunder was seeking funding from the state Legislature to repair roofs at their facility in north Corrales. It’s a big job. The property has indoor and outdoor barns and auxiliary buildings. It would take about $120,000 to cover the expense.

The non-profit does get some funding through the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship Intl. and community donations. 

Loving Thunder, which serves more than 100 children and adults throughout the year, has programs for kids with and without special needs, six-week summer camps a foster child program and more. They also offer therapeutic riding and programs for veterans.

“It is such a great joy to let that horse do the doctoring, fixing our veterans,” Mike told the commission. “They put their guns away. They’ve torn up suicide notes in front of us. 

“I’m not a doctor, I’m not a therapist,” continued Mike, who says he learned the power of horses while riding the Pajarito Plateaus in Los Alamos as a child. “But I am providing my knowledge of horses and my own disability to other people to help them smile, go through life better.”

Loving Thunder’s work with veterans appealed to Commissioner Jay Block, a proud Air Force veteran. He committed $35,000 of his discretionary county funds to pay for two of the roofs, both more than 2,100 square feet, on the spot. He also challenged his colleagues to also allocate something.

“This is really, really important. I like what you’re doing,” he said.

Commissioners Katherine Bruch and Michael Meek later sent $4,500 each their way. Bruch also said she’d urge state legislators from the area to allocate money to the project.

It remains to be seen if they get more money through the Legislature. The 2023 legislative session ends March 18.


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