Horse-drawn caravan ends 2,500-mile trek in Lake County

Gerard Paagman

People with disabilities certainly can benefit by horseback riding. Riding improves coordination, strengthens muscles, and promotes good posture – among its many positive attributes. Then there is the bonding with a horse. Horses do not care if you are disabled. They care if you care and respond to them in a calm, positive manner. Horses can indeed be a bridge to the outdoors and to better health. ~ HfH

From: Orlando Sentinel
By: Jayna Omaye

Gerard Paagman

Gerard Paagman led a horse-drawn caravan of about 50 adventurers and 20 to 40 horses on a 2,500-mile journey

Atter Michael Muir was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis as a teenager, his love and passion for horses motivated him to keep going through the pain and struggles.

The 62-year-old great grandson of famed environmentalist John Muir used that passion to encourage others with disabilities to experience the therapeutic nature of the outdoors.

“To have something that really inspires you and fires up your life really helps you get up…and experience your day,” said Muir, who drives a wheelchair-accessible horse-drawn carriage and founded Access Adventure, an organization that seeks to enrich the lives of people with disabilities through outdoor recreation. “My life is rejuvenated. I am recreated by my outdoor experiences.”

The California native is part of a group of about 50 adventurers who embarked on a 2,500-mile horse-drawn carriage journey from Murrieta, Calif., in November. They will make their final stop Saturday at the Grand Oaks Resort, an equestrian resort and carriage museum near Lady Lake.

A handful of participants including Muir and another co-leader on the expedition, Canadian horse trainer and rider Gerard Paagman, made it to Grand Oaks on Friday to check out the facilities and prepare for the closing ceremony featuring flag riders and a meet and greet with the caravan’s drivers and passengers.

“It has been a super experience so far for many, many reasons,” said Paagman, 59, whose 11-year-old daughter joined him on the adventure. “Every state had its own beauty.”

The team traveled through the desert and the deep South at a steady pace — 4 to 5 mph — while passing through cities including Yuma, Ariz.; El Paso, Texas; Baton Rouge, La.; and Tallahassee. Traveling an average of 20 to 25 miles each day through a planned route of paved and gravel roads — and sometimes no roads at all — the group included both passengers and drivers, some of whom joined along the way. They camped out in tents and trailers.

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AUTHOR: Amber Barnes
2 Comments
  • Horses are magnificent Therapy Animals. A family member had a stroke and she rides at the Therapeutic Riding Academy. These horses and Ponies are worth their weight in Gold as not every horse or pony is able to be a Therapy Animal.

    Bravo and Brava to the Men and Women who took the trip!

    March 14, 2015
  • MS

    Everything about horses is great —

    We should bring back the horse for transportation in place of the automobile.

    March 14, 2015