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Blog | Access Adventure
Muir, his horses provide outdoor adventures for disabled

Muir, his horses provide outdoor adventures for disabled

Caption: Michael Muir, left, rides with student Mario Scharmer, who suffered a catastrophic traumatic brain injury. (Rebecca King courtesy photo) By Susan Hiland, Daily Republic SUISUN CITY — Michael Muir has not let a diagnoses of multiple sclerosis stop him from enjoying the outdoors, even if it is from his wheelchair. The 67-year-old’s love of horses keeps him ticking along just fine. Over the past 55 years, he has represented the United States four times in world and international championship carriage driving competitions, winning medals and champion honors in Germany, Austria, France and Great Britain. He also founded Access Adventure in 2005, enriching the lives of people with disabilities, injured veterans, at-risk youth, senior citizens and special needs children. His program provides the opportunity for therapy through educational, outdoor activities. The program also provides people with disabilities of all ages the opportunity to ride and learn about recreational carriage driving and therapeutic driving. Access Adventure provides youth programs and unique educational opportunities relating to preservation, ecology, wildlife habitat and rangeland management. His work doesn’t stop there. He breeds the Stonewall Sporthorses at Rush Ranch headquarters on Grizzly Island Road, which has created a livelihood for him and an adventure far beyond what he could have ever dreamed. “Horses have been central to the quality of life for me,” Muir said. “I’ve done a lot of fun things because of them and been able to share that, which is important.” At 15, he was diagnosed with MS; it has waxed and waned for him but has never daunted his spirit. He was in the Dixon 4-H when his attention was...
In Memory of Stonewall Blanche

In Memory of Stonewall Blanche

March 1, 1992-December 29, December 29, 2018 STONEWALL SPORTHORSE CHAMPION (COMBINED DRIVING, LONG DISTANCE DRIVING) 1992 Black Leopard Mare Charlie Degas x Stonewall Crystal by Prince Talisheek Bred by Stonewall Stud, Winters, California Owned by Cheri’ Smith, Titusville, Florida Bingo! It was obvious when the peacock spotted black leopard filly first stood that she would grow to be a very big mare. Her long legs were graced by black points, dramatic contrast to her snowy white coat. Stonewall Blanche sparked serious dreams of driving glory. She did not disappoint. This was the first of three sisters to become Stonewall Sporthorse Champions produced by Stonewall Crystal, a big, rugged black leopard daughter of 1967 National Champion Crystal Curtain. Stonewall Blanche took easily to harness as a strapping two-year-old, showing willingness to go anywhere and do anything. By the time she was four, she was competing regionally, then throughout the West. In 1998, Michael Muir was named to represent the United States at the first World Championship for Drivers with Disabilities, held in Wolfsburg, Germany, with competitors from nine countries. The Americans came home with the team bronze medal, led by Florida’s Kate Rivers earning the individual bronze. Mike was hooked and he wanted more. His string of driving horses were shipped to Southern Pines, North Carolina, the heart of the American driving world, early in 1999. They would spend the year training and competing to qualify for the 2000 World Driving Championship in Stadl Paura, Austria. Stonewall Blanche led the way, storming through competitions in Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Vermont. Blanche towered well...
Harnessing Hope and Healing

Harnessing Hope and Healing

UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine Newsletter August 29, 2018 Posted by Trina Wood Michael Muir has always been fascinated with genetics and breeding. As a child, he bred mice for different coat colors. By the age of nine, a family friend helped him start a small flock of sheep that he bred and raised for the local 4H in his hometown of Dixon, California.  By the age of 12, with the money he earned from selling prized lambs, Muir bought his first mare who happened to be in foal, with a filly by her side. More than 50 years later, Muir is still breeding horses and has relied on the expertise of the veterinary hospital’s Equine Field Service to help care for them. Initially, he worked closely with Drs. John Hughes and Irwin Liu. Along with a rotating group of students, they helped Muir in breeding more than a hundred mares annually in the 1970s. “They would bring the students out to Allendale Farms in Dixon, and I learned right alongside them,” said Muir, great-grandson of America’s visionary conservationist John Muir. “They taught me a lot about breeding and general medical care.” By the time Muir reached his late 30s, the multiple sclerosis he was diagnosed with in his teens made it difficult for him to ride in the saddle, so he shifted his focus to carriage driving. He started breeding what he calls the Stonewall Sporthorse—a blend of strength, stamina, beauty, and gentle disposition. “I didn’t let my disease stop me from being a horseman, although I have a good deal of help,” Muir said. “Driving is...
Natural Beauty For All: Making National Parks More Accessible

Natural Beauty For All: Making National Parks More Accessible

With almost thirty national parks in California and nearly sixty across the wider country, America is one of the world’s natural beauty hotspots. But for the 40 million Americans who have a disability, accessing these picturesque locations can sometimes seem like a difficult task – and as CNN reports, it can sometimes leave travelers with disabilities feeling like they’re being isolated. From the lack of smooth paths to limited wheelchair access, there are all kinds of reasons why travel locations with gorgeous natural beauty aren’t always very accessibility-friendly. Some attention is, though, now being focused on making spaces like these as accessible as possible: locations like Montana’s Glacier National Park, for example, have installed wheelchair-friendly trails in some parts of the park. With that in mind, this article will look at some more accessibility ideas for national park managers and other travel and outdoors professionals to consider. Make paths smoother National parks do, of course, need to remain as natural as possible in order to respect ecosystems and continue to encourage tourism. But the lack of investment in the infrastructure around some of America’s natural spots means that sometimes not even basic access is possible. In some locations, not even the paths around car parks and other important areas are smooth – which means that those who find walking a challenge may be unable to even get as far as the base of a mountain or the side of a lake. But there are some positive signs: the California Department of Parks and Recreation, for example, has released a tool which allows visitors with disabilities to plan trips to...