Share 1st Shea Center Rider - Michael Lewis
39 years ago The Orange County Riding Center, now known as the J.F. Shea Therapeutic Riding Center, was founded by Nancy and Derek Lewis for their son Michael who was born with cerebral palsy. And 39 years later Michael, who was the centers very first rider, still comes to the center every Wednesday for his lesson! I have been associated with The Shea Center since I was 8 years old and I have watched Michael over the years. For the past three years I have had the privilege of leading Michael’s trusty steed Oscar for his lessons and I have to say that my Wednesday’s with Michael are the highlight of my week! Michael’s “Team” Ms. Sonya, Phil, Oscar and myself will gear up about 2:45pm for the 1st Shea Center Rider - Michael Lewis to come for his 3:00pm lesson. Michael’s lessons are way too much fun. We will ride around the ring for awhile and then we tend to head down to the barn to see Kenny, say hi to the volunteers and staff and possibly out to the woodchip trail for a trail ride. We will chat with Michael about any recent trips he has been on, the band he loves to go see every first Thursday of the month in LA and occasionally we will sing for him. Michael loves it when we sing because we are not very good and he thinks it is hilarious!! Seeing him smile and laugh at us is amazing, he has a smile and laugh that are extremely infectious. Even though we have a lot of fun in our lessons, they are extremely beneficial for Michael in that the horse’s three dimensional walk closely replicates the movement of a human walk, helping stimulate Michael’s muscle coordination, strength, posture, and balance. The bond that he has created with Oscar also produces emotional and psychological benefits that are unique to therapeutic riding. For the hour that Michael is with us he is able to move from his wheelchair up onto his horse and receive the physical, emotional and psychological benefits. Our weekly lessons with Michael are something I look forward to all week. Although Michael is only one of the hundreds of clients that The Shea Center services a year, he is a true inspiration and I am so fortunate to be part of his team and The Shea Center Team.