Healing Winds Therapeutic Riding Center is raising funds for ‘Sadie’


Medical bills soar for special horse who has a love for special-needs children

Sadie the therapy horse has been instrumental in the well-being of so many in the Clark County community, welcoming guests at Healing Winds Therapeutic Riding Center for more than 12 years.

Now, she could use a little help from the community.

Sadie the horse has been a fixture at Healing Winds Therapeutic Riding Center for more than a dozen years. The center is raising funds to help pay Sadie’s medical bill after a recent life-saving surgery. Photo courtesy Healing Winds
Sadie the horse has been a fixture at Healing Winds Therapeutic Riding Center for more than a dozen years. The center is raising funds to help pay Sadie’s medical bill after a recent life-saving surgery. Photo courtesy Healing Winds

Sadie has been in what could be described as the intensive care unit at a veterinary hospital at Oregon State University, recovering from abdominal surgery and fighting for her life after a bout with colic.

Healing Winds is hoping Sadie will be home in a few days, but a hefty medical bill, likely more than $16,000, will also be coming to the Hockinson barn. A fundraiser has been set up on Facebook.

“This horse is just very special to me,” said Nancy Elder, owner of Healing Winds. “She’s just a diva. She thinks she is better than everybody else. She’s just a great mare. She loves everybody. She loves special-needs. She’s just one of my heart horses.”

Elder founded Healing Winds in 1989. Her daughter Brenda joined her mother in 1995 and is now the director of operations.

The center works with anyone, all ages. From special-needs children and adults to veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, and survivors of abuse.

“Horses don’t talk back. They hold no judgement,” Brenda Elder said. “They’re like, ‘Hey, how are you doing?’”

On Thursday, Robin Van Houten brought her daughter Emily and son Eli to ride. Emily has special needs. Eli does not. Robin said riding horses brings brother and sister closer together.

Emily Van Houten and her brother Eli enjoy spending time together while riding horses. Photo by Mike Schultz
Emily Van Houten and her brother Eli enjoy spending time together while riding horses. Photo by Mike Schultz

Emily needed her time with the horses even more in the past year. Because she has epilepsy, she cannot do online programming. 

“Her calendar is circled and colored,” Robin said. “We count every night to see how many days until we ride again.”

The horses provide therapeutic and physical therapy.

Sometimes, the horses don’t even have to have riders to do their job. Also on Thursday, another family was there not to ride, but to pet the animals and feed them snacks. 

Emily Van Houten, who has special needs, is a regular rider at Healing Winds Therapeutic Riding Center. Photo by Mike Schultz
Emily Van Houten, who has special needs, is a regular rider at Healing Winds Therapeutic Riding Center. Photo by Mike Schultz

Healing Winds has seven horses, including two miniature horses, as well as chickens, goats, and other creatures that just want to improve the lives of the humans who visit them.

The horses, though, take center stage at the riding center, located at 12414 NE 212th Ave., in Brush Prairie.

“I know what horses did for me when I was growing up,” Nancy Elder said. “So I just want to share that with everybody else.”

Sadie’s Fundraiser on Facebook notes:

“We have set up this fundraiser in hopes to help pay for surgery and rehabilitation so we can get her back to doing what she loves.”

That would be helping autistic children and adults cope, or helping veterans with PTSD, or helping all who suffer with depression or anxiety.

“She is a wonderful part of our family,” the post reads.

To donate, go to: https://www.facebook.com/donate/260756522303137/

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About The Author

Paul Valencia joins ClarkCountyToday.com after more than two decades of newspaper experience. He became the face of high school sports coverage in Clark County during his 17 years at The Columbian. Before moving to Vancouver, Paul worked at Oregon daily newspapers in Pendleton, Roseburg, and Salem. A graduate of David Douglas High School in Portland, Paul enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving three years as a soldier/journalist. He and his wife Jenny recently celebrated their 20th anniversary. They have a son who has a passion for karate and Minecraft. Paul’s hobbies include: Watching the Raiders play football, reading about the Raiders playing football, and waiting to watch and read about the Raiders playing football.

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