Thunder Rode Therapeutic Riding making a difference in Decorah - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Thunder Rode Therapeutic Riding making a difference in Decorah

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DECORAH (KWWL) - Michelle McLain-Kruse is calm and comfortable in this ring as she directs her riders and their horses.

Thunder Rode, a nonprofit therapeutic riding program near Decorah, is in its ninth year.

McLain-Kruse started with a sports therapy program for people with special needs, including horse lover Valerie Fox who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2007.

"She was told she'd never ride again, and that was very depressing," said husband Sam Fox.

Sam Fox said riding twice a week has greatly improved his wife's quality of life.

"Balance, her agility, her strength. If you're familiar with MS, that's areas it affects the worst," said Fox.

Four years ago, Michelle McLain-Kruse added the Iowa Thunder Youth Program, which is free of charge for riders like Dalton Palas who has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

"It teaches me how to deal with my anger issues because if the horse isn't listening to you, you don't get mad and blow up. You work it out," said Dalton Palas.

Michelle McLain-Kruse is certified through the Horsemanship Association and the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship.

She said there are 850 therapeutic riding centers across the U.S., including several in Iowa.

McLain-Kruse's goal is to build confidence in her riders and to enhance their abilities to live and work in their communities.

"It's fun for me whether they stay here for years and years or not watching them from a far, and knowing maybe I had some tiny little part," said McLain-Kruse.

McLain-Kruse said she just provides the horses, but riders and their family members said she's done a lot to change their lives for the better.

For more information on Thunder Rode, click here.
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