Walk on Water Equestrian

Special Olympics equestrian riders based in Brevard County will soon be saddling up to practice for the games in a new arena.

Walk on Water, a Merritt Island non-profit organization that provides a variety of animal therapies and riding instruction, was recently selected by Special Olympics Florida-Brevard County to be the official training center for the county’s Special Olympics equestrian team.

Plans are for the arena to be completed this month, with riders beginning to prepare in April
for next year’s Special Olympics. The team is open to equestrians ages eight and older who have special needs.

The arena will be the only indoor arena in Brevard, according to Walk on Water Executive Director Patti Bryan. It will also be used frequently for equine-assisted therapy and horseback lessons.

Walk on Water has received funding for the arena from Brevard-based companies and foundations, and Special Olympics will be donating some new equipment, but there are still many needs, Bryan said. Their top priority is a wheelchair- accessible ramp for mounting. They also need sand for the arena’s footing, as well as lighting, bleachers, gates and mirrors to aid riders in spatial awareness.

Walk on Water has been providing equine therapy and riding instruction for 11 years. Its executive director harnessed her career
background, as well as her belief in God, to start the organization after a family tragedy inspired her to help others. “We started Walk on Water because my mom had a heart attack and a stroke,” said Bryan, who has a background in the fields of teaching, cardiopulmonary therapy and special needs. “She used to ride horses when she was younger, so we brought her around horses when she couldn’t speak or walk. One of the horses put her head inside of the car my mom was in, and she said ‘whoa.’ After that, I thought, ‘we have something here.’

“We now see 4,000 people a year and have 100 volunteers per month with only two part-time paid positions. We started with two horses, and a wing and a prayer,” Bryan said. “God just keeps on blessing us.”

For more information, visit walkonwaterhorses.com