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SHELBYVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- In a county filled with show horses and thoroughbreds, a different breed may deserve the biggest prize. Its works can't be valued in dollars, but rather in lives changed every day on a Shelbyville Farm.
"I do love my job, I do very much so," says Megan Bereskin of The LUCI Center. The LUCI Center is a therapeutic horseback riding facility tailored specifically to children and adults with special needs." Anything from cerebral palsy to multiple sclerosis to traumatic brain injury, Down Syndrome, autism," says Pamela Nieto, the owner and founder.
Nieto launched the center in 1997, moved onto the current farm in 2006, and says the LUCI Center now serves 30 people a week, from three to 80 years old. Bereskin explains, "The horses movement out of walk mimics the way a person would walk. You get the same muscle reactions so that stimulates the rider to do other things." Bereskin says she has cried along with her client's parents when you special needs kids take those first steps.
LUCI stands for Love Understanding Care and Involvement. Leaders say it is not just recreation. Each instructor holds or works toward industry certification and all clients are patients under doctor's orders. Nieto says, "It's fun therapy."
A horse called Danny Boy shares the sprawling 50-acre farm with 14 other horses and five minis. But Danny and all the horses at the LUCI Center will soon be moving because the farm was just sold. Plans are to build a new, more handicapped-accessible center on a smaller lot across the street. Nieto says, "Part of it is the economy and I think what you have to do is look wisely forward." She says therapy will continue during construction on a temporary site seven miles away.
Bereskin looks forward to working with Danny boy again in April at the start of the LUCI Center's new season. She said, "It's an amazing feeling to know that you're making a difference in someone else's life."