Therapeutic Riding Center Receives Gypsy Vanner Horse

The center won the horse through a Facebook contest in July.

Gypsy Vanner Hourse

TTRC was awarded this mare through a Facebook contest.

The Texas Tech University Therapeutic Riding Center (TTRC) was awarded a Gypsy Vanner horse through a Facebook contest this summer. After more than two months in Lubbock, the horse – which riders chose to name Gypsy – is already impacting the program and its members.

Gypsy was donated to TTRC by the Gypsy Gift Organization through LexLin Gypsy Ranch. Premier Accredited Centers with Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship, International (PATH, Intl.) were eligible for the contest, said Tangi Irwin, TTRC program director.

“We were really excited about receiving the horse,” she said. “It will add additional spots to our schedule that we couldn't have done before.”

Gypsy was presented to TTRC on July 26 at the Gift Presentation in Tennessee and was shipped to the center a week later, Irwin said.

“We plan to incorporate her into both our therapeutic riding classes as well as our hippotherapy sessions,” she said. “We also look forward to using her in our future programs. We hope she will be able to be a part of our show team and travel to shows with our riders.”

Gypsy will play a part in the lives of many patients as well as be able to improve the quality of life of those she comes in contact with, said Lisa Grant, a PATH certified therapeutic riding instructor.

Gypsy has adapted to Lubbock and gets along with the other members of the herd, especially Queen, the center's Norwegian Fjord, Grant said.

Gypsy Vanner Hourse

She will be used in therapeutic riding classes and hippotherapy sessions.

“She is a special horse,” Grant said. “Just from the small amount of time she has been at the therapy center, she has made an impact in my life. Gypsy is a sweet mare who is smart, and she can pick up a person's emotions quickly. I think her biggest talent is being able to make a gruesome day into a marvelous day.”

To be eligible for the contest, TTRC was required to submit a biography to LexLin Gypsy Ranch, Irwin said. After TTRC was selected, the center participated in a competition through the LexLin Facebook page, where users voted for the center of their choice once a day for four months.

Five centers were awarded horses. The top four centers with the most votes and a center chosen by LexLin Gypsy Ranch each received a horse, Irwin said. TTRC finished third in the contest.

Grant said she voted for TTRC every day and encouraged volunteers, family and friends to do the same.

 “I even had an alarm set on my phone to help remind me it was my time to vote since you could only vote once every 24 hours,” Grant said.

Gypsy Vanner Hourse

Gypsy's strength is tuning in to human emotions and brightening the days of all who come into contact with her.

The TTRC is a Premier Accredited Center through PATH, Intl., Irwin said. The center provides services to about 70 child and adult riders who have a variety of disabilities and special needs using 13 horses and seven certified therapeutic riding instructors.

The center competes in the area and state Special Olympics as well as the Chisholm Challenge, which is part of the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo, Irwin said. It also offers hippotherapy sessions and therapeutic riding sessions.

Hippotherapy sessions involve an occupational, physical or speech therapist who uses a horse to reach the therapy goals the therapists have for their rider, while therapeutic riding involves incorporating a rider's therapeutic goals with the skills needed to ride a horse, Irwin said. This course is taught by certified therapeutic riding instructors.

The center is located at the Texas Tech Equestrian Center and has partnerships with therapists from Texas Tech Health Sciences Center, Lubbock Early Childhood Intervention and private therapists, Irwin said.

“We hope to continue to offer therapeutic riding and hippotherapy sessions as well as add new programs in the future,” she said. “We would like to continue to grow both in number of horses and number of riders.”

For more information about the center, its programs and how to volunteer, visit the TTRC website.


The College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources is made up of six departments:

  • Agriculture and Applied Economics
  • Agricultural Education and Communications
  • Animal and Food Science
  • Landscape Architecture
  • Plant and Soil Science
  • Natural Resources Management

The college also consists of eleven research centers and institutes, including the Cotton Economics Research Institute, the International Cotton Research Center and the Fiber and Biopolymer Research Institute.


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