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Rachel's Story

In the cool of the morning air, Max waits in the staging area for his rider.  With a huge smile, Rachel turns and calls Max to walk up.  Max moves into position, pausing long enough to touch Rachel’s hand with his muzzle as if to say “I’m here – let’s get to work.”  He stands focused on the moment that he feels Rachel move into the saddle.  Sometimes the wait is long as new volunteers and instructors learn how to help Rachel mount. Rachel is always patient – never complaining about the wait or the inexperienced hands of instructor trainees.  Max understands the support that Rachel needs in mounting.  He will automatically shift his legs if he feels she is off balance.

Max and Rachels FamilyRachel asks Max to walk on and another class begins.  Max follows Rachel’s direction as she glides around the ring working to balance her body and square her frame.  Many ordinary activities in Rachel’s life take extra time and effort, and she must focus on meeting the challenges of not surrendering to her medical realities.

Rachel has been riding at Equest since 2004 and is a triple-threat Equestrian participating in Sports Riding, Hippotherapy and Carriage Driving. Rachel hard work and positive attitude were recognized as she was honored as the 2013 PATH International Adult Equestrian of the Year, one of the highest awards given in the therapeutic riding industry.   

As Rachel dismounts, Max turns to watch, wanting assurance that she has safely touched down from his lofty height.  At Max’s stall he gently nuzzles her as she feeds him carrots.  He touches her face, hands and legs – silently conveying “good job, I am so proud of you.” Max watches as she rolls away in her wheelchair – his brave partner in their quest to overcome limitations.

Rachel Hustis Jen Donahue Carriage Driving

While her medical condition confines her body to a wheelchair, Rachel lives a life she loves.  She is independent and is graced with supportive family and friends. She travels, swims, and of course, she is an equestrian.  Rachel is the type of person you want to meet. She knows the world is not about her but about the legacy she creates.  One of her regular volunteers stated, “I love Rachel.    A love based on the deepest level of respect and awe for this amazing young woman whom I simply have the privilege of walking beside once a week”.  Rachel truly is an example of living life to the fullest each and every day.

Rache's hard work and positive attitude were recognized as she was honored as the 2013 PATH International Adult Equestrian of the Year, one of the highest awards given in the therapeutic industry!

To donate to Equest in honor of Rachel, click here.