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The student news site of Wando High School

Tribal Tribune

The student news site of Wando High School

Tribal Tribune

The student news site of Wando High School

Tribal Tribune

Blissful Dreams helps disabled individuals

Horseback riding farm provides sanctuary
Izzy Burgess
Jamie Kohler, the owner of Blissful Dreams provides a place for people to come together and take part in her therapeutic horse riding.

In the quiet serenity of the Blissful Dreams ranch, Jamie Kohler provides a beacon of hope and healing through therapeutic horseback riding. Within the ranch, people of all different ages and disabilities find solace and strength through riding.

Horseback riding has been in Kohler’s life for many years before the creation of Blissful Dreams. Her love for horses started at the ripe age of 6 when she first started riding. Kohler then went on to

Graduate Dylan Fisher interacts with one of the horses at Blissful Dreams. “I like hanging out with the horses and I also like helping out,” Fisher said. (Izzy Burgess)

compete in horse showings across the East Coast.

“I grew up showing jumper horses and I showed professionally for a couple of years until I decided that was not what I wanted to do the rest of my life… so I moved back [to Huger, South Carolina] with my family and I was gonna go to vet school,” Kohler said.

Kholer’s sister worked as a teacher for children with autism and one day, she invited Kohler to a therapeutic riding lesson where the drive to create an organization like Blissful Dreams was born.

“Growing up I was very shy as a child, but I got to know horses at such a young age and I instantly knew what I was meant to do,” Kohler said. “Nothing ever scares me with the horses and still nothing scares me with them sometimes to a fault.”

Kohler started to work with children with autism and taught them how to ride. She knew that something was missing in her life while not sharing her love for horses with those who may not have the same opportunities as others. 10 years later she would go on to create Blissful Dreams, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing a sanctuary and a place for acceptance.

From the visually impaired, those with autism, and kids at risk, to individuals with anxiety or depression, Blissful Dreams bestows the ability to heal and comfort all.

“With the at-risk kids, they have grown up in really difficult homes and so I don’t think they’ve ever felt like that unconditional love and everybody’s hard on them, but these [horses], they’re gonna you know, love you no matter what,” Kohler said.

There has been an immense amount of positive feedback from current and former attendees of Blissful Dreams showing theirgratitude for the outcomes of their therapeutic riding.

Izzy Burgess

“I had a girl I used to ride with, she is a college student now, but she came to me when she was in elementary school with selective mutism and she didn’t talk for two years,” Kohler said. “While being here she got way more comfortable and the first word that I ever heard that came out of her mouth was ‘Whoa’. And now she is very outgoing.”

Dylan Fisher is a current volunteer and rider at Blissful Dreams and his father, Andy Fisher, has seen huge improvements within Dylan.

Dylan is diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa, which causes visual impairment, and mild autism, so being at the farm has helped him with any setbacks.

“He’s gained a lot of confidence I’ve seen, especially over the past couple of weeks,” Kohler said.

Being able to interact with people and animals regularly is something that brings so much joy to Dylan.

“It makes me happy to be out here because I get to spend time with animals and I also get to spend time with people,” Dylan said.

Blissful Dreams faculty strive to get the word out about the farm and hope to recruit volunteers to help out at the farm.

“We have volunteer forms on the website at blissfuldreams.org, and we do a simple background check, get our schedule together, and usually start with shadowing…everybody has a different gift that can be helpful,” Kohler said.

Another rider at Blissful Dreams is junior Morgan Vitou, who has been riding with Blissful Dreams for about three years now and couldn’t be happier with her current position.

“I’ve always loved horses and used to ride when I was younger. After moving down here, we did research into places that would be accommodating, and [Blissful Dreams is] what we chose,” Vitou said.

Vitou is visually impaired so she faces challenges when trying to find activities that she can participate in to the best of her abilities. Riding has given Vitou a sense of pride and accomplishment.

“I’ve had people say I can’t do something just because I have a visual impairment. I have extremely good spatial awareness that took a long time to develop but it also helps with things like riding,” Vitou said. “I’ve always loved horses so I just love to be around them and this doesn’t have to just apply to riding. Brushing them is good or taking care of them. It’s a cool feeling to know that you’re one with an animal.”

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