Natchez Trace Stables Center opens in Canton - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Natchez Trace Stables Center opens in Canton

Saturday was the grand opening for the new Natchez Trace Stables. Source: WLBT Saturday was the grand opening for the new Natchez Trace Stables. Source: WLBT
Saturday was the grand opening for the new Natchez Trace Stables. Source: WLBT Saturday was the grand opening for the new Natchez Trace Stables. Source: WLBT
Saturday was the grand opening for the new Natchez Trace Stables. Source: WLBT Saturday was the grand opening for the new Natchez Trace Stables. Source: WLBT
CANTON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Saturday was the grand opening of the Natchez Trace Stables Center in Canton. Soon, it will be Mississippi's second accredited horse therapy program. 

"Tell her I will kiss her head on Monday. Alright? K. I love you," says Valerie Steele, who can only be described as the Wonder Woman of Mississippi. 

Steele is a mother, teacher, student, innovator and most importantly, a dreamer.

"This is a vision that happened and it just spread through," she said. "And I'm simply the vessel and I am surrounded by greatness and people that want to help."

Steele said people have certainly helped, and nothing would have been possible without this Larry Marsman, who's the owner and operator of the center and also an instructor.

"I had the Holy Lord come upon me and he said, 'you know Larry I had you build that for me and it's time for you to go and work for me.' And so I went back and I told her about it and she said this is what we need to do," Marsman said.

"It looks like play but there is a method to the madness," said Steele, describing a path in the woods. "It looks like it would be a dream to ride through."

The stables have partnered with the University of Mississippi Medical Center to develop a sensory trail.

Students in the occupational and physical therapy program have developed activities designed to be effective for children with Autism, ADD, Azbergers, Dyslexia and more.

"UMMC students came up with this," Steele said. "So we now have an abacus in the woods that you can add and subtract on horseback."

One 12-year-old student wants to be a professional chef when she grows up.

Her mother says she noticed that she was a little reserved and shy, so she decided to sign her up for the new program.

The mother says looking at her daughter now feels amazing.

"Not only did she start riding and took to it like that, but then she wanted to stay and help with the special needs children that are here too," her mother said.

"She's phenomenal," Steele adds. 

Steele says that sustaining the program and providing the resources for the children can be costly and she welcomes any and all the help that she can get; whether it's building fences, buying feed for the horses or working with the horses.

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