You may know NSDCAR REALTOR® member Marilee Lowe as a recent REALTOR® Award of Excellence recipient. She was honored for her longtime support of several community organizations in Fallbrook, her home for the past 33 years. Over the decades, Marilee has been involved with organizations that have helped disabled children and seniors. “It’s important for NSDCAR members to be involved in their communities,” Marilee said.
But did you know that Marilee is a strong advocate in hippotherapy for children?
Hippotherapy is horseback riding for handicapped children with various disabling neuromusculoskeletal medical conditions, including cerebral palsy, autism, spinal cord and brain injuries, Down syndrome, multiple sclerosis and other sensory integration dysfunctions. Hippotherapy literally means “treatment with the help of the horse” from the Greek word, “hippos” meaning horse. As a physical, occupational or speech and language therapy treatment strategy, hippotherapy can result in improved coordination, balance, muscle tone, body strength, sensory integration and self esteem.
“The physical, mental, and emotional benefits of therapeutic horsemanship are many,” said Marilee. “The rhythmic motion and warmth of the horse stimulates and exercises the rider’s muscles increasing mobility. The riders can experience weight shift and trunk mobility as if they were walking on their own.”
In 1985, Marilee became involved in REINS (Riding Emphasizing Individual Needs and Strengths), a non-profit therapeutic riding program based in Fallbrook. She served on the board from 1985 to 1989. When the program was close to closing in 1989, Marilee took it over and served as its volunteer administrator until 1995. “I moved the program here to Fallbrook, where it was wholeheartedly embraced by our community,” said Marilee, who is currently involved in REINS only as a donor.
“I’ll never forget Jonathan who was a student at REINS,” said Marilee. “He was nearly three years old and had never said a word. He was autistic and uncommunicative. One day, he was riding on our bay mare named Heather and I was one of the side walkers. One of the commands for the horses are the words `walk-on.’ When one of us said, `Walk on Heather,’ Jonathan spoke up and repeated the words. It was perhaps the first words he had ever said in his life. It was a very emotional moment for all of us, especially his parents. When those things happen, you know that you’re making a difference and giving an opportunity for kids to blossom.”
Marilee’s community involvement also has included serving on the board of directors for the Foundation for Senior Care, operators of a senior and adult day care center in Fallbrook. “I believe all members of our community deserve to be taken care of and honored and protected as needed,” said Marilee “This includes those who are advanced in years or disabled with some form of memory loss or dementia. These folks are looked after at the senior day care center. The Foundation also operates Care Vans which provide door-to-door transportation to seniors in need. Rides are provided to the day care center or grocery store or pharmacy or medical appointments. ”
Marilee also is involved with two equestrian groups, the Fallbrook Riders Inc., and Vista Palomar Riders (VPR), two of the oldest horse clubs in California. She has served on the board of directors for both groups and currently serves as VP for the Fallbrook Riders.
For VPR, Marilee recently organized a five-day ride and campout for about 50 members. The event was held at the Los Vaqueros Group Horse Camp at Cuyamaca Rancho State Park. She is hosting a similar event for the Fallbrook Riders at the same Cuyamaca park site in late August. “There are miles and miles of beautiful riding trials around Lake Cuyamaca and the Cuyamaca Mountains,” said Marilee. “It’s a wonderful get-away time. As you can tell, I love horses and working in real estate with equestrian properties. I fell in love with Trigger (Roy Rogers’ horse). My first horse was a Christmas present at age 7. Her name was Chopper.”
Marilee appreciates the convenience of the NSDCAR office in Fallbrook. “I love my North County board because the office is local,” she said. “They are a wonderful resource. The staff always knows the answers to my questions, and they’re very helpful. I can stop by for a visit without traveling to the big city of Vista.”