LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Eric Wright started Cope’s Hope Equine Assisted Services in 2021, hoping it would have a positive impact on other Louisville area families, just like it did for his family.
Wright and his wife, Debbi, adopted their oldest daughter, Ella, from Ukraine. She was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when she was little. Wright said people told them she would never walk. Now, at 19-years-old, she is defying those odds.
“Not only does she walk, but just recently she rode a mule on the rim of the Grand Canyon. People never would have thought that would have been possible,” said Wright.
Wright said equine assisted therapy helped her strengthen her core and allowed her to walk.
“It’s been a major part of our life,” said Wright.
Not long after adopting Ella, they found out they were expecting a child. Their other daughter, Elsie, was diagnosed with Angelman syndrome, a rare neurogenetic disorder.
“We immediately said horse equine therapy is going to be a big part of it,” said Wright.
He said, just like it did for Ella, equine therapy helped Elsie improve core strength and walk.
“She just loves horses. That is probably her biggest motivator, is just being around the horses,” said Wright.
When the pandemic hit, there weren’t as many opportunities to get his girls around horses. That is until he bought a farm on the outskirts of Louisville from his uncle. It was actually Wright’s grandfather who purchased the land in 1964. Multiple family members have lived there since.
“This is the legacy of my grandfather, really. He always hoped people would have some place to go,” said Wright.
He knew this would be the perfect place to start equine assisted services. He appropriately named it Cope’s Hope Equine Assisted Services in honor of his grandfather, Arthur Coaplen.
This new venture actually has a lot in common with what he’s been doing for 30 years at the University of Louisville, where he works as a student success coach in the College of Education and Human Development.
“The work I do at the University of Louisville and the work I do at Cope’s Hope when I am doing my private practice work, it goes hand-in-hand. It’s about helping people.”
He wants all kids who come here to learn essential coping skills. Horses help him teach them that.
“If you’re stressed out, they’re going to feel that you’re stressed out. If you’re in a good mood, they are going to feel that. Their energy and response to you is typically about how you feel. We do a lot of grounding therapy. If you are calm and can take a deep breath, the horse is going to be calm,” said Wright.
Wright recently renovated the farmhouse, which he hopes to rent out soon to caregivers who need a little retreat from everyday life.
While Cope’s Hope is in its early stages, he hopes it will continue to provide hope and healing to Louisville families for generations to come.