"Watching my child ride, under the direction of Dennis Quilliams, brought tears to my eyes as I realized that this was one of the very best things, since the 4 years since my son’s diagnosis, that I ever could have done to help my child. My son was diagnosed with a rare genetic neurological disorder, Polymicrogyria, resulting in left sided hemi-paresis (partial-paralysis,) and after years of therapy and tons of dedicated work, watching my son steer Cuddles the horse, entirely on his own made me realize just how lucky we were to stumble across Dennis and Cuddles which has given my son the confidence and promise to engineer his own destiny, on his own terms, within his own ability and under the caring and experienced guidance of Dennis. Never have I been more thankful. Thank you." Laura Freeman

"Since our daughter Falan started riding horses with Special Ability HorseManShip, the changes we have seen with her physical mobility and strength are amazing. She came to Dennis after a hard bout of regression where she had lost her ability to hold herself up. I noticed a difference even after the first few lessons. Riding is Falan's favourite thing to do and she has gained a true love and respect for horses. Because we have seen such a positive difference in Falan's physicality, we even try and mimic riding at home for her therapy sessions. This service is something very simply that Falan couldn't live without."Nicole Hollman.

"This experience has been so profound for Gracie. In the past, she believed that she was only "good" at being the "bad" kid, but since riding Whoopi and working with Dennis, her self-confidence has grown so much! She loves riding and she now knows that with hard-work and dedication, she can achieve anything.

Thank-you so much for believing in Gracie and giving her this opportunity! You have made a difference that she will carry with her the rest of her life!"

Our Story

Special Ability HorseManShip started about 13 years ago. Actually, it began with a love of horses that I (Dennis) have had since I was a youngster. When I married Karen, who had polio,I began my journey into riders who have some "special needs" And thus the journey began into working with people who want to experience "HORSES". 

Special Ability HorseManShip began in leased indoor arena and pasture west of Red Deer. After a great 13 years the property sold and we had to move to a new location .  The folks where we leased were very generous to us and we thank them.

We have been searching for over 6 months to find a suitable facility for our program.  We have searched high and low.  There are many indoor arena's around Red Deer that we have talked to about bringing the program to their facility.  The answers we have received have been "this is a private facility and we do not want the traffic" or "we have no arena time available." 

We are still on a  mission to find a suitable facility. There are very few to no options within a 20 minute radius of Red Deer.  Currently we have pasture for the horse's but no indoor arena.  Very few of our clients are able to ride outside, and as winter progresses they are missing their riding sessions because of the lack of an indoor arena.

As we searched we realized our costs would increase considerably.  In actuality they will likely triple.  From $100/ horse, hay included and the use of the facility,  it could now cost us $300, or more,  a month for board and feed for our horses.  We can have anywhere from 8 to 10 horses in the program.  We try to budget for 10.  At present we have 6 we are boarding.  Again, you can see the previous owners of the facility were very generous to our program. 

In the past we operated  approximately 30 hours a week .  Some of our riders do not think they can afford the extra travel costs, from 10 minutes to our previous facility  to over 20 minutes.  It is extra time and money.  We need to raise funds to help support these riders so they can continue to participate.  We want to avoid raising our low fee, that makes it possible for them to participate. We are the primary program provider for the non-profit Gaitway to Equine Experiences Foundation, who are endeavoring to raise funds to supplement the cost for the riders and horses to support these programs.

Due to difficulty in finding a facility that can accomodate us, we have come to the decision that we need to build a facility/home for us.  We recognize the high cost and poor economy will make this a difficult challenge.  We are just guessing at $500,000 to $1 million.  Of course we will be looking for as much that can be donated as possible. Once again Gaitway is helping to make this feaseable.

Of course we are not only looking for funding for our facility,  We are also asking for help for our participants, and our horses as well, so we can continue this program.

We are the preferred providers for  "Gaitway to Equine Experiences Foundation"   It is through the  not- for- profit, Gaitway, that  donation receipts can be issued  The mission of Gaitway  is simple.  "We believe in the healing benefits of horses to improve the lives of those in our community. We wish to ensure that all who wish to benefit by participating in a diverse range of equine related activities, are not hindered by lack of funds or access."

What some of our families are saying:

"I wanted to share this amazing video I took at yesterday’s lesson. It’s so fabulous to see the progress that Kyra has made in so many ways:
•her ability to sit in the saddle·
•squeezing her legs to get Blue moving·
•her hand position with reins·
•her awareness of Jélena and Taz riding beside her·
•the listening and following of directions from Dennis·
•can you tell in the video without knowing Kyra or Jélena, which child has special needs???

Dennis, you are so patient and grounded with Kyra and obviously as you can see, she is thriving from your teaching methods. Her Mom and Dad have said she’s always drawn to people with good energy and the two of you definitely fit that bill. I’m so proud of Kyra for her accomplishments and I just know she feels it too"