For more information on Friedreich's Ataxia, visit the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) website.
 

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Ohio County Equestrian, Inc. was incorporated in 1998 by John and Rhonda Leach. Its origin, however, goes back much further and involves heartache, loss, hope, and most of all love. The love of two people for God, for each other, for their children, for the horses that have always been part of their lives, and for the extended family of riders they have met along the way.

Rhonda was born in Muhlenberg County and attended Western Kentucky University. John was born in Ohio County and spent much of his time riding and showing horses in the surrounding areas of his home. In 1975, Rhonda and John were married and they continued to ride and show Tennessee Walking horses. During the next ten years, God blessed them with three wonderful children; Dena, Chris, and Elizabeth.

By the time Elizabeth was born, Dena was suffering from something that had attacked her muscular system. Chris, three at the time, had just started showing some of the same early symptoms. Soon after Elizabeth’s birth the diagnosis was given for all three children—Friedreich’s Ataxia, a progressive neuromuscular disease.

Dena and Chris were already learning to ride horses with their parents. As the children grew older all three continued to ride. As the disease progressed, the doctors were amazed at how limber, strong, and coordinated the children continued to be. Everyone agreed, a large part of the credit went to the horseback riding.

It was from these personal lessons in the value of the horse to the special rider that OCE was created. Johnny and Rhonda realized that many other people could benefit from their experiences and that God had blessed them with the skills and the desire to help others who may not have the same opportunities. They created OCE to include riders of all ages and skill levels regardless of how they may be physically or mentally challenged.

In addition to starting OCE, they actively seek out like minded people who wish to start similar programs and provide help and advice on how to get started.