"Hippotherapy" has become a can't-miss event for many.By Meghan Schiller

WEXFORD (KDKA) – If there has been something consistent in helping relieve stress during these difficult times, it’s four-legged friends.

However, in Wexford, it’s not your typical dogs and cats helping those that are stressed out.

It’s horses.

Despite their enormous stature, it’s been learned that horses can calm people’s nerves.

“My daughter deosn’t always look forward to a lot of things, but you can tell when we’re in the car riding out here, she definitely knows where she’s going and she’s looking forward to it,” said Robie Bruesewitz.

Orchardview Stables in Wexford is the highlight of the week for Robie’s daughter. It’s a chance for her daugther to spend a crisp, fall day on the apple farm and spend time with a gentle giant.

“I can’t say enough about the people that run this program,” she said. “[My daughter] is non-verbal and under the autism spectrum and she has just gained so much independence it also helps with her core strength.”

They call it “Hippotherapy” and it uses horses to heal both the mind and the body.

Mary Kay Soregel built an indoor area and calls have poured in ever since.

“The thereputic community came out in force and they’re people that seemed to be needing instruction and I wasn’t trained in therepeutic riding,” Soregel said.

That’s when Soregel’s daugther Tessa found a new calling. She left the special needs classroom and found a new teaching passion at the farm.

“I teach adults, kids, people of all ages, with special needs how to ride,” Tessa Maxwell said.

The program is open to anyone and it’s a chance to spend time with Joe, Ruby, Huck, and Mini Pearl.

“They are extremely accepting, they’re understanding they mirror our emotions so they really help us get in tune to what’s going on in our own lives,” Maxwell said.

Orchardview usually hosts a “Barn Bash” in the fall but this year it has been canceled due to the pandemic.

The bash usually brings in around $50,000 to help care for the horses over the winter and fund the “Hippotherapy” program.

Those wanting to help even without the bash, can make a direct donation on Orchardview’s website.

Meghan Schiller