An Alberta woman is showing that her love of special needs children and horses have no bounds, leading her to create a magical place where the two come together to really enjoy the freedom of horse riding.

Laurie Messner established the Journeys Therapeutic Riding Society in Nanton while she was working with special needs children at the Nanton School where she was also teaching horsemanship.

“I just thought it would be wonderful to bring my two loves together,” she says. “I just started slowly with the idea of bringing it together and then the funding came together and the non-profit came together.”

Colby Ewasiuk has been with the society ever since it began and says it really helps him every day.

“They help me to be stronger, and more independent working with her and working with them.”

The success of the organization is also built by the efforts of the many volunteers, which Messner says are never in short supply.

“They come from all walks of life and they’re just so dedicated and committed.”

Journeys is also helped through generous donations as well. Kateri Holmes and her husband had a son Lane who was suffering from cerebral palsy.

The Holmes own a ranch and say they saw first-hand how much riding helped Lane. When he passed away, they were happy to put up seed money to help establish Messner’s organization and Kateri is proud of what’s been achieved.

“She’s dedicated just innumerable hours to helping all the kids. And we’ve got kids coming from as far away as Okotoks and Calgary for her program specifically.”

For all her efforts at improving the lives of children with special needs, Laurie Messner is this week’s Inspired Albertan.

For more information on Messner’s organization, you can visit the website.