SMART Visit 2/14/2020


LWRWC Members Celebrated Valentine’s Day at SMART with Children from “Beyond the Spectrum” & Amazing Smart Horses.

Pictured Left to Right: Anne Parker, Elaine Nutley, Sharon O’Toole, Rosie Sorrells, Monika Templeman, Shannon McCutcheon, Melissa Spillenkothen (SMART Interim Executive Director), Kathryn DeYoung, Martine Moscovita, Kathleen Cleveland and Regina Napoli.

Melissa Spillenkothen, Interim Executive Director of SMART, took the ladies on an informative tour and brought the SMART experience to life as she explained the outstanding educational and therapeutic horseback riding and carriage driving programs. The tour began with a ringside view of riding therapy for adorable children from Beyond the Spectrum (BTS) in the covered arena completed in late 2018. The covered arena permits SMART to continue programs during the hot summer months and heavy rain.


Sarasota Manatee Association for Riding Therapy (SMART) is located at 4640 CR 675 E.  Bradenton, Florida, on a beautiful, bucolic 23-acre equestrian facility. LWRWC is a proud supporter of SMART since 1987, that fills a crucial need for effective educational and therapeutic programs for children (ages 5 and over) and adults with a wide range of physical, emotional or cognitive disabilities. Through fundraisers and donations, LWRWC helps SMART fund scholarships, horses, vet services and purchase supplies and equipment, including saddles and an invaluable Equicizer.

One of the most delightful parts of the tour was the opportunity to interact with and feed the amazing SMART horses. The ladies brought tasty carrots and apples as treats for their new equine friends. LWRWC also delivered Valentine’s Day treat bags for the BTS Smart Riders and prepared cute cards to send them their love!

LWRWC is very proud to sponsor a pony named Norman and Magic, a beautiful 16-hand bay quarter horse with no eyes, who learned to function flawlessly despite being blind. Magic helps SMART Riders overcome their own daunting challenges. Autistic children, who often have trouble making eye contact, find it easy to bond with the horse without eyes. SMART horses are well trained, very loveable, and are a variety of breeds. Most of these horses have been donated to the program and their work at SMART is their “second career”.

Three volunteers from LWRWC, Erica Wheatley, Terri Arnold, and Martine Moscovita (along with her husband Peter), shared their passion for helping SMART and encouraged other ladies to join them. Through the tireless dedication of certified instructors, volunteers, and empathic horses, SMART helps heal body, mind and spirit!