How did it begin? First, a friend who had suffered a stroke mentioned an article she had read which discussed therapeutic riding. Next, someone mentioned how much his wife wanted to see therapeutic riding started in our area. Later, Cheryl Crider and Dr. Christy Hicks (the first Board President) rode horses and talked with a former volunteer from a therapeutic riding center in Middle Tennessee. Shortly after this, Cheryl started volunteering for a hippotherapy program sponsored by the West Tennessee Cerebral Palsy Association in Jackson. Finally after much soul-searching, Tom and Cheryl Crider decided God was “clearing the path for them to follow”; they decided to start a nonprofit therapeutic riding center for persons with disabilities at the family farm.
In December of 2004, Cheryl became certified as a NARHA (North American Riding for the Handicapped Association) Registered Instructor. She had been a Pony Club member in her youth and had shown hunters and jumpers in the Middle Tennessee area. Thanks to the generous spirit of Jan Foy, Executive Director of Hoof Beats of Hope in Puryear, Tennessee, Cheryl was able to receive the training and guidance she needed to become a registered instructor. In gratitude for their help and to stay fresh in the field, Cheryl worked as a volunteer at Hoof Beats of Hope for approximately nine months.
Tom and Cheryl Crider filed a corporate charter for TLC Riding Academy, Inc. on January 7, 2005. On May 2, 2005, the organizational meeting of TLC Riding Academy, Inc. was held. The initial Board members included the following: Harry Adcock, Kerri Ballentine, Bob Duncan, Dr. Christy Hicks, Robin Lindsey, Tom Crider (ex officio), and Cheryl Crider (ex officio). Following a lengthy wait, TLC Riding Academy, Inc. was designated as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation by IRS in August of 2006. Following this, the program became a Member Center of NARHA.
Volunteers were trained in late September and October of 2006. Our first rider started in December of 2006. At the end of the first year of riding, there were six riders and over 40 people had requested applications.