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COMMUNITY SPIRIT: Little Cherokee Horse and Miniature Equine Therapy helps alleviate challenges for those with disabilites

Tahlequah Daily Press - 5/28/2024

May 27—Little Cherokee Horse and Miniature Equine Therapy has offered those struggling with disabilities a place to help alleviate their challenges.

Chloe Mayfield, the Little Cherokee Horse and Miniature Equine Therapy social media coordinator, said the organization invites those with mental health challenges, students and people with disabilities — such as those with down syndrome and autism — to come out and interact with their equine for therapy purposes.

Co-founder C-lei Guthrie-Mayfield said since people have different experience levels with horses, the group tries to keep visitors time with the equine within their skill set.

"We let them do what they're comfortable with, like they can feed the horses, pet them, and interact with them in other ways," Mayfield said.

Mayfield said the group even travels to nursing homes, so residents can meet the horses.

"It gives them a way to see animals and horses that are not so big, and when you see that smile on their faces it makes us happy too," Mayfield said.

The organization was started in 2012 by John Guthrie with one of their most recent updates being a barn completed in early 2019. Little Cherokee Horse and Miniature Equine Therapy offers its services for free, but donations are accepted. To generate money the group also does fundraisers by selling eggs that also comes with mini muffins.

Mayfield said being a part of an organization that offers these free services is rewarding. Being around the animals with the Little Cherokee Horse and Miniature Equine Therapy, has even been rewarding to Mayfield, as it has helped her learn how to interact with people and lessen her own anxieties.

"When I first started coming here in late 2013, I wouldn't talk to anyone and I couldn't understand the importance of friends because of a diagnosis of social pragmatic communication disorder that's similar to autism in 2015," Mayfield said. "Interacting with the horses helped me to lessen my symptoms of that, and then in 2018, I was able to talk to others with them without being so nervous."

Guthrie-Mayfield said the group's biggest benefiters are those with disabilities, but they will help and try to put a smile on anyone's face.

"We just want the community to know if there is anyway we can provide any service to them then we will make it happen," Guthrie-Mayfield said.

To get involved or to donate to the group, either message through Facebook at Little Cherokee Horses and Miniature Equine Therapy or Instagram @miniature_equine_therapy, email, or call/text 918-316-2599.


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