By Karli Barnett

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – People of all abilities and ages are saddling up and taking the reins at Good Hope Equestrian Training Center, where they not only enjoy a fun time but also gain independence and confidence.

A horse lover, Melina Nammur, says Good Hope has provided her with the perfect volunteer opportunity.

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“I am a side handler,” she explained, “Making sure they are secure and interacting with them, making sure they do stretches and are calm and enjoying themselves.”

Promiseland Academy, one of many organizations that utilize Good Hope’s services, sends developmentally disabled children there for therapeutic rides on the horses and ponies.

”We have ten wonderful students that come out every week,” says Development Director Natasha Zarzosa. “We do a combination of the exercising and focus a bit on the stretching.”

Riders get fresh air, exercise, a chance to improve their balance, confidence, and have a great time.

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“We do some relay races so it doesn’t seem like it’s all work. They get to enjoy what they’re doing,” Zarzosa said.

Through grooming and handling the gear known as “tack,” riders get to interact with the horses more.

The non-profit could not survive without dedicated volunteers like Nammur. She sees this as a path toward her future.

“I love working with the kids. They mean a lot to me,” she said. “I take it very seriously and I love it with all my heart. I want to ride. I want to work with children. I want to do therapeutic riding that’s my goal.”

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Good Hope Equestrian is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. You can get more information at

Karli Barnett