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Morrisville State College Student Creating Organization That Pairs Children With Disabilities and Horses

MORRISVILLE, N.Y.—Chase Lord learned at a very young age that strength doesn’t always come in the form of physical abilities or capabilities—it comes from the heart.

The 22-year-old Morrisville State College student is proof that determination and the power of will can take you  places in life.

Lord was born with cerebral palsy, a movement disorder that affects communication between the brain and muscles.

Behind a boyish grin that rarely wanes is a more serious side of Lord, whose tenacity and zealous nature refuse to let him place limitations on his life.

He’s setting out to instill that in children who face similar challenges.

Lord recently purchased a jaunty, six-year-old standardbred, JT Bibbsy, and plans to travel with him, introducing people to the Mossy Creek Foundation, an organization he is hoping to create which pairs children with disabilities and harness racing horses.

Lord, who is enrolled in the college’s bachelor degree program in equine science, would like to show children with disabilities that anything is possible with the right combination of heart and soul.

“I want children to see beyond disabilities, not only through horses, but in life,” Lord said. “You can do anything you want in life if you are determined and your heart is in the right place.”

And his is.

Lord, of Corfu, N.Y., is eagerly trying to raise money to get his Mossy Creek Foundation off the ground. Ideally, the program would help children with disabilities learn how to care for race horses, harnessing them among other things.

“Horses have a unique ability to motivate children to do new things,” Lord said. “I want children to see if they want something bad enough there is nothing, not even a disability, that can stop them.”

A local, non-profit organization, the Root Farm, in Verona, N.Y., an equine-assisted therapy center for children and adolescents with disabilities or challenging life circumstances, is interested in his efforts and has offered to let him operate under the umbrella of their organization.

Lord, who has been empowered by horses his whole life, believes working with horses helps children with disabilities “be like everybody else,” he said.

“Regardless of wheelchairs or canes and braces, children want to do things like everyone else,” Lord said. “Working with horses seems to give them power and boosts their self-confidence.”

He’s trying to spread the word.

Lord spent the past summer traveling throughout New York state introducing people to the foundation he is trying to create. Leasing various horses, he led post parades at fairs and races dressed in yellow, black and white silks, riding in a cart adapted specifically for him.

The catalyst behind Lord’s current endeavor is his prided Mossy Creek, a horse that was given to him at the end of its racing career and died two years ago.

“My plans for the foundation are to inspire children the way my horse inspired me,” Lord said. “He was tenacious and full of heart and, despite medical problems, never let anything stop him.”

That same attitude has been emblematic of Lord’s life.

“People are often surprised at what I can do,” he said. “They look at me and until they get to know me, they think I can’t do things.”

Some questioned his career choice.

“I wanted to work with horses and nothing was going to keep me from doing it,” Lord said.

Aside from the occasional assistance of a note taker in some of his classes, he doesn’t have any trouble keeping up with other students or doing tasks associated with the program such as barn duty.

Lord, who has never been able to walk without canes, uses a wheelchair or canes to help him get where he needs to go. But he doesn’t want them to define his life or character.

“I don’t believe in stereotypes,” he said. “I want to be just like everybody else, just like any other student.”

He takes his studies and work with horses quite seriously.

Lord’s interest in horses and his innate ability to relate to them was apparent by the time he was four years old. He grew up in the horse racing industry and learned the ropes spending a lot of time with his uncle who trains standardbreds.

His devotion is manifested in his room in Onondaga Hall decked with equine memorabilia, statues, posters and autographed photos. The room sports the colorful side of Lord, who is also active on the Morrisville State College campus working as a tutor, at the college’s annual yearling sale, and as a night host in his residence hall. He has also been named to the dean’s list.

Outside of the classroom, Lord has an additional interest. He likes to buy and sell horses.

He owns three of his own standardbreds right now, and in the past, has had people race his former standardbreds at Batavia Downs, the Saratoga Gaming and Raceway and the Buffalo Raceway.

Lord is currently trying to obtain licensure to be able to race professionally, but his career focus is on the behind-the-scenes work involved with the equine racing industry such as jogging, conditioning, harnessing and taking care of horses.

His plans for the fall include more travel to create awareness about his foundation, including leading a post parade at Batavia Downs with JT Bibbsy on Oct. 14.

Lord, who already has an associate degree in equine racing and management from Morrisville State College, hopes to work for a racetrack or a breeding/racing farming business some day.

He is the son of Betty Lord, of Corfu, N.Y.

Morrisville State College offers a bachelor of technology degree in equine science and two associate degrees in equine racing management and equine and science management. An Equine Breeding and Training Center, a 34,000 square-foot breeding and hunter/jumper facility, includes a breeding and foaling barn, hunter/jumper barn, stallion barn, a complete breeding laboratory, collection area, laptop classroom and three indoor riding arenas.

In addition to the Equine Breeding and Training Center, the college has an 80-acre Equine Center complete with paddocks, stables and the only half-mile harness racing track on a college campus in the nation. Additional stables include a draft horse barn with a covered round pen and runouts.

Morrisville State College offers 13 bachelor degrees and a wide variety of associate degrees and options. Considered to be one of the most technologically advanced colleges in the nation for its ThinkPad University program and wireless technology initiative, the college recently became the first in the nation to comprehensively replace landlines in residence halls with individual cellular phones.

The Norwich Campus recently announced its first standalone degree in early childhood and also offers associate degree programs in business, computer and office technology, liberal arts transfer and nursing to Chenango County area residents and employers. Students may also apply coursework to other associate or bachelor degrees at the main campus.