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Bright Star Equestrian Centre – Petersburg, IL

Emma has been riding with Bright Star since the beginning, since she was just six years old. When she first came to Bright Star, she could not walk straight and was hunched over. Today, six years later, Emma has come a very long way. Her heart-warming story shows what Bright Star is all about – using “the power of horses to bring hope, healing and transformation to people of all abilities and ages.”


Jen McCormick, Director of Riding Programs, when talking about Emma and her progress, said that “for children or adults with special needs, I create a specified lesson plan for each one. I look at their disability, and their ability.” But Jen looks at more than that. She sees the potential of each person that comes into Bright Star. She sees where they can go, and what they can achieve.


That was something she saw in Emma. When she started at Bright Star, Emma was terrified of horses. Now, she smiles and laughs as she rides around the ring with Cowboy Ed at her side. He sings to Emma as they ride around the ring, and you can see that they both love what they are doing. One of the goals of the program was to have the kids riding solo. Ed admits that he didn’t think that Emma would be able to do it.


But as Emma became more relaxed in the saddle and progressed in the different exercises, learning to steer and improving her movements on the horse, one day, something incredible happened. Emma rode solo. Ed becomes emotional as he recounts, “It was like a hand grabbed my heart, because it dawned on me that what I was seeing was something that I thought would never happen.”


Progress like Emma’s is what makes it all worth it at Bright Star. Volunteers like Ed and riding instructors like Jen put their hearts into what they do to help the riders at Bright Star progress. The programs really are life-changing.


Bright Star offers therapeutic horseback riding lessons to individuals with cognitive or physical disabilities. They also offer Equine Assisted Psychotherapy sessions and Equine Assisted Learning sessions. There’s even programs for speech therapy and a “Homeschool Horseback Riding” program.


Bright Star currently has 8 horses on their roster, including Quarter Horses, Paints, and Thoroughbreds. Jen says that all of them “are there for a purpose.” The favorite among Bright Star riders is Lola, a Haflinger mare, who is “short, stout, and has the best personality!”


Register online at the website below to join one of Bright Star’s fantastic specialized programs or to donate and support today.


How to Contact This Farm:




1450 Horse Farm Rd, Divernon, IL 62530


(217) 741-3086




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