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stage of their lives, and they decided it was time to make horses a higher priority. Meanwhile, they’d heard about an equine-assisted therapy program called Giant Steps and were inspired to start a similar program in South County. Landa spent time in Texas where she received training and certification to provide equine-assisted therapy. In the meantime, Mark tackled the business arrangements for setting up the non-profit organization. Today, One Step Closer Therapeutic Riding operates as a center member of PATH (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship) and Landa Keirstead is a certified PATH instructor. The Keirsteads have a stable of horses they’ve trained specifically for therapy work. “PATH has high standards for safety and a wealth of experience as an international organization that has been dedicated to therapeutic riding for many years,” Mark Keirstead explained. Every month, One Step Closer provides dozens of clients with guided therapeutic riding programs for youths with physical, mental or emotional challenges or disorders. They also have a program in partnership with the U.S. Veteran’s Administration that serves our military veterans. Some of the veterans complete the program and then return to help other veterans who are just getting started. “We have served clients of all ages who have come to us with autism, blindness, traumatic brain injury, Down syndrome, paraplegia, PTSD and other challenges,” Landa Keirstead said. “We use natural horsemanship techniques to teach our clients the language of the horse. Learning how to communicate with a horse is empowering to people and can build their self-esteem as well as physical strength, balance and coordination.” s Lori McIntosh on photo shoot Patti Ansuini Rocking A Ranch t Donna Russo of Woodmist Farms with trainer Gail Hoff-Carmona from Ohai, CA A Close-Knit Community H Along with horse professionals, their clients, and folks with horse property, veterinarians like Dr. Rich McCormick at Valley Equine, farriers like Mike Hayward in San Martin, and leaders of rescue organizations like Laura Hensley of Perfect Fit, are all part of the South County horse community. People in the horse world know and help each other much the way they’ve done in the ranching and farming worlds for many years. They understand what it takes to be successful with an equestrian-oriented operation in a horse-friendly community. A Heritage to Celebrate and Cherish H From time to time, local horse enthusiasts also share their love of horses through the arts. Lori McIntosh inherited her father’s talent for photography, but it was horses that ignited her desire to become a professional photographer. McIntosh and her husband Nigel chose to live on a horse property in Morgan Hill so they could keep their two Arabian horses at home and be close to equestrian trails and horse camping sites. As an accomplished portrait photographer, McIntosh works with clients from all over Northern California who seek her out to photograph their families and their horses. “My clients think of their horses as part of the family,” McIntosh said. “Many have raised their horses, along with their kids, from newborns to adults. There’s a lot of love in those G M H T O D A Y M A G A Z I N E MARCH / APRIL 2015 19