Any encounter with Happy Trails rider, Colleen Soares, will instantly brighten your day. Born with cerebral palsy, this delightful 33-year old is a happy addition to Happy Trails. Colleen was born with cerebral palsy. From infancy to three years of age she received services at the UCP agency in Hanford. She started to volunteer in 2015 and then hired in 2016. She works Monday through Thursday keeping the office clean for their clients and families.
Colleen was introduced to horseback riding as a member of Wayfinders at Fresno State University. This two-year program assists students in transitioning to independent living. Wayfinders students also enjoy a variety of activities during their free time. They are given the opportunity to choose the activities they would like to participate in and are supported and encouraged to try new experiences. To say Colleen found her perfect activity would be an understatement. She began with volunteering in the barn at Tally Ho Horse Park in Clovis. It was there as a young adult, she took her first ride ever and instantly fell in love. It wasn’t long before she was riding independently off the lead rope. Within two years she was encouraged to try jumping. This girl has no fear!
Unfortunately, Saturday lessons were discontinued and transportation issues prevented her from taking the leap to the next level of riding. It was eight years before Colleen was able to ride again. A conversation with her Central Valley Regional Center counselor prompted her to contact Happy Trails in 2021. By February 2022 she was back in the saddle. “I was surprised at how much I still remembered. Just like riding a bike, I guess you don’t forget,” Colleen was quick to report.
Colleen is looking forward to the start of Fall Session when she will be included in a group therapeutic riding class. “I’m looking forward to a different class where I can meet other people,” she tells us. “Happy Trails is a very positive place for me. Even if I have a bad day, I know I can leave here with a smile!”