Cassidy’s Cause & Dara Triplet
Dara Triplet suffered a heartbreaking loss when her daughter, Cassidy, passed away at the age of nine from Tuberous Sclerosis.
Angie Jackson and Mike Falconite knew Dara and Cassidy well and wanted to give back in a big way to honor Cassidy and the love she had for horses.
“They started helping me at another therapeutic riding program and decided they wanted to build a barn and name it after Cassidy,” says Dara.
This gorgeous facility sits on 22 acres of rolling green hills and provides a relaxing environment for anyone who walks in the door. The main barn hosts the office space, front desk and provides a viewing room for guardians to watch the lessons. Riders take lessons and participate in activities in a large indoor arena and have access to four tacking bays where riders prep their horse for the class. Outside, each spacious pasture comes complete with a paddock which provides the horses’ shelter and inside there are six stalls provided.
Cassidy’s Cause was founded in 2014 and offers therapeutic riding to individuals at least four years old and older of all backgrounds with disabilities or who suffer from emotional or physical abuse.
“Our oldest rider is 58 and the youngest is four. We currently have 64 riders and seven instructors. We help individuals who have Cerebral palsy, brain injuries, fetal alcohol syndrome, down syndrome, spinal cord injuries and autism. About 45% of our riders have autism or have autism and several other disabilities as well. I have one student who has charge syndrome and a majority of my students are with autism. We also teach ‘at risk kids’ who have been emotionally or physically abused.”
The enrollment process is simple. The rider visits the therapeutic riding facility for an evaluation to help the instructor choose the best fit lesson for his or her individual needs in the program. Once the individual is placed in a class, the rider will learn how to groom, tack and ride his or her horse. Lessons last one hour during the duration of the lesson, riders shoot basketballs off the horse, play hula-hoop or play tag just to name a few of the activities. There are many activities for the riders to participate in throughout the eight-week program.
“Horses are naturally calming and can feel your heartbeat from four feet away. So if you’re nervous, they feel it. Horses also have the same walk patterns as people which helps encourage walk and verbal communication. All of these things can physically help with riding a horse because it takes a lot of strength and energy to do so,” says Dara.
One rider, in particular, stands out to Dara. A little girl named Brie is 14 years old and is confined to a wheelchair. She does not sit up by herself and is nonverbal, but Brie rides twice per week and has built up the strength to sit up by herself and has said the word “whoa” twice and “on” once.
“This is a child who is totally nonverbal, but she is also like a little ray of sunshine when she comes in. You can’t help but smile when she comes in. She is precious,” says Dara.
Cassidy’s Cause thrives with help from volunteers and currently has 300 helping hands on the roaster. Individuals from Ladies Living Free and Paducah Life Line Ministries come every Friday to help haul hay. Cassidy’s Cause currently has seven instructors on staff and also an ABA therapist who works with the kids and their behavior.
“Everybody that comes into this place is always affected in some way kindly. I had someone tell me you guys make it like home and no one can give me a compliment so graceful than that because that’s exactly my goal,” says Dara.
Cassidy’s Cause is located at 6075 Clinton Rd., Paducah, KY. For more information call (270) 554-4040.