“Devoting her life to improving the lives of both horses and humans.”
“Strength doesn’t come from what you can do. It comes from overcoming the things you once thought you couldn’t” – Rikki Rogers
Once in a while, you may find yourself fortunate enough to encounter a truly selfless individual, a person who has devoted his or her life to improving the lives of others. This could not be more true than in the life of Mary “Snakey” Urquhart. Snakey is the lead riding instructor and barn manager at the Horses for Handicapped Foundation of Pinellas County, Inc, a 100% volunteer non-profit organization, which provides multiple equestrian-handicapped based services to those in and around the Seminole Florida community. Formerly known as the Kiwanis Horses for Handicapped Foundation of Pinellas County, the organization’s name was officially changed in 2013. As a Girl Scout/4-H leader, Mary Urquhart was approached by the late Gene Harris to begin the program as a Kiwanis project, and together the two founded the organization in 1981.
Horseback riding has widely been recognized as one of the most beneficial forms of recreational therapy an individual can receive, helping to improve self-confidence, and improve coordination and discipline. Snakey has devoted herself to this cause through the Horses for Handicapped Foundation, caring for not only the organization’s many horses, but also for the individuals with whom the program serves. As the program’s lead riding director, Snakey is committed to educating others on the importance of serving the special needs community. This has truly made her an inspiration to everyone whom she encounters, as she is able to pass on her own love and devotion to horses by giving “hands on” lessons, and sharing her experiences with all individuals and families involved in the riding program. Furthermore, Snakey is actively involved in youth organizational leadership meetings, including 4-H and Girl Scouts. Her commitment and attendance at all Equestrian Special Olympics meetings is instrumental; as each year the Horses for Handicapped facility hosts the Florida Area 6 Equestrian Special Olympics. In addition, Snakey is one of 11 members on the Horses for Handicapped Board of Directors, and is the Foundation’s Barn Manager, committed to the nine horses used in the program; three of which are rescues. As the Horses for Handicapped Foundation is a 100% volunteer run program, Snakey dedicates much of her time to facilitating the help of community volunteers, in order to promote the organization’s mission. This includes acting as advocate for the horses, working on aspects of equine care, as well as barn maintenance. Snakey’s leadership is unparalleled when it comes to serving the program’s more than 75 weekly riders and horse lovers, devoting a minimum of six to eight hours each day to the program’s operations.
Thank you for your help in recognizing our own, Mary “Snakey” Urquhart, as the unsung hero of recreational therapy, and the Horses for Handicapped Foundation of Pinellas Co, Inc.