Infusing Positivity & Fun into All Her Lessons

Meet Kelly Champion Tambasco

 Never judge someone by the way he looks, or a book by the way it’s covered;
for inside those tattered pages, there’s a lot to be discovered – Stephen Cosgrove

Many people with disabilities face challenges that few of us can fully appreciate. This is particularly true with conditions such as PTSD, anxiety or post-concussion syndrome, as oftentimes, they offer no visible symptoms. Kelly Champion Tambasco, a riding instructor here at Mane Stream, can attest to this struggle.

While participating in a show several years ago, Kelly suffered a traumatic brain injury when her horse stumbled and became entangled in a jump, catapulting her in the opposite direction. She was taken to the hospital where she remained in intensive care for three days, suffering from a separated shoulder, broken eye socket and a slipped disc in her neck. However, not long after her release, she attempted to continue with her life of riding and showing, soon realizing it would take time to regain her memory and recover from her injuries. “With a concussion, it can take a long time for everything to make sense and you can get frustrated from pushing too hard; routine tasks can become overwhelming” she says.

This experience allows Kelly to relate to those who have suffered similar trauma, while inspiring them to overcome their personal obstacles. “There are some who come through Mane Stream who seem fine on the outside, but on the inside it’s a little scary. They are aware of their accident so it follows them around and can become an anxiety while performing various activities. I can share my story and relate to the kids, since I have been through the same challenges, and they become interested and more engaged in what we are doing.” The message she strives to convey is that there is no shame in needing time to recover or to admit to having a challenging day. This message works equally well for the “Horses for Healing” participants all of whom have been impacted in some way by cancer.

Kelly infuses positivity and fun into all her lessons in order to motivate the participants. The reward for her is watching their growth and witnessing their sense of accomplishment when they master certain tasks. “At the end of the day, I know I make a positive difference in someone’s life and that makes it all worth it.” 

Recently, a participant who normally requires assistance walking to her car after her time on the horse is able to stand up straight and walk on her own. The student’s mother commented, “This is why we come here. This is what the horse does for her.” And it is the reason Kelly loves her role at Mane Stream.

Written by: Jessica Hulen