He has only a limited ability to walk and talk on his own. He communicates mostly through his ever-present thumbs-up sign, a few spoken words and his keyboard attached to a voice synthesizer. And it takes four people to help him onto a horse.
But for parts of two hours per week, 50-year-old Victor Hale Schramm sits on top of the world, about 4 feet above the ground, perched contentedly on a grayish-brown gelding named Stoney.
This is where Schramm, who suffered a traumatic brain injury when his stopped vehicle was struck by a drunken driver’s Cadillac in 1983, finds sanctuary, a sense of doing something on his own as he hangs onto the reins and guides Stoney around the riding ring.
Schramm is one of about 600 local residents who benefit from the opportunities at the Lothlorien Therapeutic Riding Center in East Aurora. Its riders include people with physical, emotional and cognitive disabilities, along with children who have lost a loved one and war veterans who may be fighting PTSD.
That sanctuary, though, has been threatened, one of the silent victims of our recent nasty winter.
Seven feet of snow on the roof, combined with the dangerous mix of freezing and thawing, badly compromised the center’s indoor riding arena. The harsh effects of the snow and ice have left its structural beams sinking into the ground and its walls lopsided. Structural engineers have told Lothlorien officials that the building has to come down.
Right now, the center is about $75,000 short of the rebuilding cost, as it’s already lined up a contractor to rebuild the indoor riding arena.