Rick and Shana Wheat on their ranch with the W Heart W Therapeutic Riding Stables opening October 2 at 1 pm.

A nationally renowned/acclaimed horseman/entrepreneur in the equine world, Rick Wheat ,and his wife, Shana, a certified/advanced rehabilitative riding instructor with a degree in social work, share a mutual goal at this time in their life – to help other people.

The grand opening of their W Heart W Therapeutic Riding Stables is scheduled for October 2 at 1 pm at 1925 Copper Hollow Road, in Batesville and the family said all are welcome.

A massive stroke in 2012 put Rick Wheat out of commission for a while. During this rehabilitation period he realizes, firsthand, how therapeutic horseback riding is, indeed, assisting him on the harsh journey back to the world he’d known before his stroke. He also learned Ann Romney (wife of the GOP’s 2012 Presidential hopeful), diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, credited her doctor’s aggressive treatment and her daily therapeutic horseback riding as the reason for her “miraculous” recovery of her strength. Thus, Shana and Rick’s dream began to culminate, their goal to just help people, through personal knowledge and life-experience, which became a reality in opening the Therapeutic Riding Stables.

Shana Wheat, instructor/leader of the stables, grew up around and amid the equine business, cultivating a rich history/love/expertise and laying groundwork for her lifetime aspiration. She recently earned her bachelor’s degree in social work and is also a certified/advanced rehabilitative riding instructor. Her classes consist of riding sessions, riding lessons, play therapy, horse tack/care and instructions, etc. Beginner classes are held inside a barn but can progress to outside trail rides when students advance. Shana’s love and devotion to her husband, her chosen profession, and their horses is quite evident observing her in her natural environment, leading or riding one of their 40+ horses, with a deeply ingrained love, compassion and capability.

Therapeutic horseback riding is the use of horses and equine-assisted activities in order to achieve goals that enhance physical, emotional, social, cognitive, behavioral and educational skills for people who have disabilities. It not only focuses on the therapeutic riding skills but also the development of a relationship between horse and rider. It uses a team approach in order to provide treatment for the individual with the guidance of riding instructor.[1]

Horses provide a unique neuromuscular stimulation when being ridden through their one of a kind movement. Horses move in a rhythmic motion that mimics the human movement of walking. While riding, the horses stride acts to move the rider’s pelvis in the same rotation and side-to-side movement that occurs when walking. The horse’s adjustable gait promotes riders to constantly adjust the speed to achieve the desired pelvic motion while promoting strength, balance, coordination, flexibility and confidence.[2] One does not have to ride to achieve the desired effects of therapy, because it is thought just being around horses has a strong influence upon anyone in many of life’s aspirations to live a full and healthy life.

The W Heart W Stables is a non-profit organization and inside facility located at Mount Pleasant, about two miles off Highway 69 on County Road 88. ARTEX Animal Welfare Association, Inc., dba W Heart W, and accepts all gifts and donations, which are tax deductible. Adults, youth and children are welcome to apply regardless of emotional, financial, or physical challenges. If you cannot afford the class, they will obtain a sponsor for you to be able to attend. You may also visit their web site or for more information.

The Wheats have an inside arena for scheduled classes and plan to be open year round. They have held trail rides and rented horses for over 20 years, and previously owned/operated a therapeutic horse riding stable in the 1990’s. They own about 40 horses with ten that are trained for classes. The horses were trained by Mr. Wheat with his own special intricate maneuver devised for rehab safety. They also have a horse-drawn wagon to safely include wheelchair-bound clients.

Holding many titles in his long professional career such as Cowboy of the Year, All Around Cowboy, etc., riding bareback and saddle broncos, and a rodeo owner/producer, Wheat also perfected and patented, as a safety necessity, the Noavel headstall. This is an alternative to drugs and twitches when handling/training horses, and is known worldwide for being one of the most useful tools for training horses. Top farriers, veterinarians and equine professional trainers have recommended his headstall as the most innovative horse training device ever developed to keep the horse handler safe. The headstall is worn like a halter and is more humane and comfortable than traditional headgear. It does not restrict air and nothing is put in the horse’s mouth, so it gives a sense of freedom while the handler maintains total control. They are custom made, come in several sizes and can be bought directly by calling 870-346-5511, or through the web site

Everyone is welcome to refreshments and a preview of the therapeutic riding classes on the Grand Opening Day, October 2, at 1 pm. The Wheats say they want to present an “awesome demonstration of people helping people with horses, compassion and certified training.”

By: Ginger Smith