how we started
The history of Hands and Hearts for Horses can best be told through tributes to our co-founders, Terrell Singletary and Karen Leabo Singletary.
Terrell Singletary had a heart for children. During the course of his life he developed innovative ways to share his passion for faith, horses, and helping others. He saw his farm as a gift from God and often shared it with school groups, churches, camps, and individual families. A highlight for Terrell was the yearly visit by Camp Arrow, a camp for children with multiple special needs. Nan, his wife and best friend, would show these groups the chickens, rabbits, and occasional deer or owl she was rehabilitating; Terrell would show them the horses and watch in amazement at the reactions these large, lovable animals would elicit. A young boy with visual impairments asked to “see” a horse. Terrell thought about it for a moment and then helped him by guiding the boy’s hands over each part of the horse and explaining what it was for. The boy’s face lit up with joy. Terrell never forgot how that felt.
When Karen Singletary approached him about using the farm for a therapeutic riding program, it was a natural fit. Terrell and his entire family became involved, as did the community of Thomasville, which immediately fell in love with the vision of the program. They provided financial support, improvements to the farm, avenues for volunteering, and constant encouragement. Terrell became a certified therapeutic riding instructor at 76 years of age and taught lessons every Saturday. By the end of the first year there were 35 riders each week.
Karen Leabo Singletary has been an equine enthusiast and lover of horses since her early childhood. She showed competitively as a child and young lady on a national level and was considered to be one of the top riders in the nation in the hunter/jumper show arena. She was on the equestrian team at St. Andrews Presbyterian College where she won numerous national championships. Karen graduated from college with a degree in Business Management and a minor in Equine Business. Karen’s college years were packed with studying and competing on the equestrian team, but somehow in the midst of this busy schedule, she developed a love for equine therapy. Upon her return to Thomasville, she had the desire to start an equine therapeutic center.
With encouragement from her uncle, Dick Singletary, Karen presented the idea to Terrell Singletary and it became a reality. Although the center had humble beginnings with only three therapy horses, it did not take long for the good news about the relationships between horses and riders to spread and the center began to grow. Karen became a certified NARHA instructor and continues to volunteer time at the center. NARHA is now known as the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International, or PATH Int’l.
Thank you to Terrell and Karen for having the determination and tenacity to develop such a wonderful center to serve the people of South Georgia and North Florida.
MEET OUR TEAM
Development Coordinator & Instructor