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Sunday, June 16, 2024

Equine therapy: A path to healing for children with special conditions

The Grisolia family unites their passion for horses with helping those in need

<p>A girl rides a horse as a part of equine therapy in Lake Wales, Fla. on June 8, 2024.</p>

A girl rides a horse as a part of equine therapy in Lake Wales, Fla. on June 8, 2024.

Horses and humans have always been connected, and this special bond has given rise to equine therapy, an alternative therapy that uses horses to treat various disabilities, improving the physical, mental and emotional health of children.

Equine therapy is based on the profound interaction between an animal and a child, utilizing the horse’s movement to stimulate different areas of the body and brain, as well as the transmission of the animal’s body heat and the rhythmic impulses it generates.

Leonardo Grisolia, a 44-year-old distinguished Venezuelan equestrian, has dedicated his life to horses. From a young age, he has been involved in the care, riding and training of these animals. With great skill, Leonardo mastered the art of rejoneo, achieving first place in Mexico.

In 2003, he decided to focus his career on equine therapy, training horses and offering riding lessons, with the goal of using equine therapy as a path to healing for children with special conditions.

“It’s a new project, and we’re partnering with other friends to reach more people,” Grisolia said.

Jesús Mora, a 25-year-old graphic designer and horse enthusiast from an early age, has joined Leonardo in his vision. Mora assists with logistics of the therapies, taking care of transporting the horses, saddling them and assisting in the sessions. 

“Horses have always been a part of me,” Mora said.

His interest in equine therapy was sparked by a friendship in the sport and the desire to help children. 

“Seeing the children’s improvement after each session brings us peace,” Mora said.

Leonardo Grisolia, 20, Leonardo’s son and Santa Fe College animal sciences student, is also part of the team. Grisolia Sr. has been involved in the family project from Venezuela, focusing on horse management.

Although he seeks a different focus from his family, studying equine insemination and genetics, Grisolia Jr. deeply values the connections and positive impact that equine therapy has on children.

“It’s a very close circle, a family is created,” Grisolia Jr. said.

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The Grisolia family equine therapy aims to expand their knowledge and reach more homes with their book “La terapia equina: un camino hacia la sanación para niños con condiciones especiales.”

Grisolia Sr. hopes his book — which features contributions from his friends and his own experiences — will be a useful guide for those who want to learn more about the benefits of equine therapy.

Currently, therapies are conducted only in Lake Wales, but they also have facilities in Ocala. The team is in the process of partnering with other friends to reach more people.

“Our goal is to have more comprehensive facilities,” Leonardo Sr. said.

The project also seeks to extend its benefits to Venezuela, where book sales will be donated to foundations in Merida, Venezuela. The Grisolia family invites more people to collaborate with this initiative, hoping that more parents can access treatments for their children.

“It’s a project of many years that I finished last year, full of experiences both mine and my mentors,” Grisolia Sr. said.

Contact Jose Carmona at JCarmona@alligator.org. Follow him on X: JD_CarmonaS.

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Jose Carmona

Jose Carmona is a third-year journalism major and a reporter and translator for El Caimán. Besides his role, he loves to hang out with his friends, watch any kind of sports and play video games with his cat on his lap.


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