Brooksville center combines physical therapy, horses to help those with disabilities

Riding horses is Brianna Somono’s favorite activity. 

"I love it so much," she shared. "Honestly, it feels amazing and when I start to talk about it I get really emotional." 

Somono suffers from cerebral palsy and says nothing feels as good as being in the saddle. 

"Horses have such a way of connecting with us and when I get to be in the moment with the horse and it's such a great feeling. It's almost indescribable," she stated. 

Somono gets this feeling at the Emerald M Therapeutic Riding Center, which was created by Lisa Michelangelo in 2014.

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"It’s gone directions that I could never imagine," Michelangelo said. "We are expanding daily, and so we're truly blessed to do this work."  

Michelangelo, a physical therapist, says the movement of horses works well for people with physical disabilities.  

"For children who either have lost the ability to walk, can't walk, for adults that have maybe gone through a stroke or limb loss, we can actually retrain the brain to walk again on the ground by putting someone on the back of a horse," she explained. 

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Chelsea Johnson began going to the center when her 7-year-old daughter Ansley lost her ability to walk due to a rare brain tumor.  

"We decided after that day that this was where we were going to go and really loved it," Johnson stated. "She wanted to be here every day. The first day we left, she was asking me, ‘When do we get to go back?’ So we kept coming."  

Ansley passed away last year, but left a lasting impression at the center. 

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"Ansley is infectious. Her spirit, her wit, her humor and what just amazed me is this young seven-year-old and her ability to find a smile and find joy even in the depths of her illness," Michelangelo shared. "It's a place to find enjoyment and hope and a more fulfilling life." 

The 20-acre center is located in Brooksville and is holding a fundraiser to help more families.

LINK: Learn more about the fundraiser here.  

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