HOPES HORSEMAN


At 75, at a time when most people are winding down, Rick Schemel has taken on what he considers to be the most important work of his life: connecting special needs children with horses. 

Rick founded The Hope Therapeutic Horsemanship Center with his wife, Claire, last year.


Although Rick has always had one foot in the stable—he began riding horses at the age of three—his career took him as far from horses as one might imagine. He’s worked as an aeronautical engineer and managed a construction company. The success of that company allowed him to retire at age 52.


But in 1992, Rick and Claire reinvented themselves again: they began breeding Black Arabian stallions. Claire imprinted foals and Rick sold stallions all over the world.


Three years, ago, however, after looking around and seeing how much they had built, they reflected on their good fortune and decided it was time to give back.

Thus, the Hope Therapeutic Horsemanship Center was born.


Schemel remembers the first time he saw a young girl with autism ride her horse solo. As she came around the corner of the paddock, she raised her hand triumphantly in her mother’s direction. The memory still moves him to tears.

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Early morning dew streaks the car window as we approach the Hope Therapeautic Horsemanship Center.  The days work begins before sunrise.
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Schemel's daily routine includes attending mass before going to work in the morning.
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Rick Schemel puts the finishing touches on a rocking horse he made for a student.
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Rick is a consumate jokester. Rick and his friends help Claire at the Ladies of Charity food pantry to distribute bags of groceries to those in need. The weekly meeting is as much social gathering as it is a charity event.  (Photographer's note: for the f
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Jerry Hornberger assists Rick Schemel during a ring therapy session with  student Danny Huber.
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A photograph of Rick with his prize-winning horse "Final's Threat Supreme" is a centerpiece of the Schemel home.
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