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Ghent woman helps heal others with horses


GHENT, N.Y (NEWS10) – A moment in the summer of 1985 changed Jodie O’Connell-Ponkos’ life forever. At 16 years old, she lost her right arm.

“My parents were very there was no option for giving up, my dad’s like ‘look we may be Irish but we don’t have the luck of the Irish so you have to push this is your life.’” she said.

Horseback riding quickly became her source for healing. Her parents helping to ignite a drive throughout her childhood that’s only grown stronger over time. It was early on that she decided she want to help others with physical limitations like herself.

In 2009, she started Destiny’s Ride to serve others who might benefit from the healing nature of horses. Located within Liberty Farms in Ghent, her work fuels her passion to help others.

Ten years later she decided to go to school to help her riders even more. In 2019, she was accepted into Maria College’s occupational therapy assistant program. An education experience that has enriched the work she does with her riders at Destiny’s Ride

“I became a lifelong learner in my fifties, so I started decided this journey when I turned fifty,” she said.

Jodie recently found out she made it into the master’s program at Maria College for occupational therapy. This fall she’ll continue her educational journey as a student.


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