Swisher volunteer leads a 'stable' life

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SWISHER, Iowa (KCRG) -- Jackie Wallace lives the stable life at Miracles in Motion where, on this cold and windy February morning, we met Jackie... and Jet, a horse with lots of years of therapy and lots to riders to help.

"Cheers" is Jackie Wallace's dog but also a therapy dog for some of the people who live at Arbor Place in the Meth-Wick Community of Cedar Rapids. On this Monday, Cheers entertains.

"I wanted to share the horses with other people and I knew I worked comfortable with people with challenges," said Wallace.

This is Jackie's journey after retiring from Cornell College, where she retired from her role as Registrar and where she also studied from 1967-1971... Jackie racked up at least 41,000 miles -- by car, not by horse -- from her home in Mount Vernon to Swisher to work with horses like Jet and so many others over the last three decades. She cleans stalls, coordinates the volunteers.

"We always need volunteers," said Wallace.

"All the busy work for the reward of working with the riders.

"Physically, mentally, socially, they benefit and get benefit from the horse on whatever stage they're in," said Wallace. "We start by teaching each rider how to ride to the best of their ability."

This also means working with the horse to handle each rider and lots of training for both.

"Horses are very instinctive," noted Wallace. "They're acclimated to all kinds of movement because, when the riders are on there -- and they're not Olympic riders - they might scream or move their arms around.">

As she embraced Jet with a touch, lighter than a sonnet, she talked about how they want the horse to react.

"We want to be able to touch this horse anywhere or any way."

The riders keep coming. Children and adults who live with challenges along with veterans for therapy. All to see how a horse's movement can be calming.

"I don't know how many miles I've walked around the arena," Wallace said while leading Jet around in the wind.

The winter schedule can bring a change in plans for Jackie -- one that's very refreshing. Jackie also brings her dog, Cheers, to the Memory Care Center at Arbor Place in Meth-Wick in Cedar Rapids where, on this morning, Cheers met up with Lois, Bob and Lou. A therapy dog to bring out more smiles.

"I like to do that because, when I'm in the Care Center, I want someone to bring me a dog or a cat to love!" Wallace said.

Add in a packed schedule for the spring, as Jackie is also helping with the Mount Vernon Visitors Center, Cedar Valley Humane Society and, on Sundays, plays in the bell choir at Mount Vernon United Methodist Church.

But still, miles to go before the spring for Jackie -- to be ready for another season of memories, somewhere over in Swisher.