It’s wonderful to see how the horses’ stories of overcoming seemingly insurmountable problems resonate with children.

Lisa Schadt ’76

Lisa Schadt ’76 is proof that “follow your dream” is more than just a great graduation speech closer.

“Manito,” Native American for “great spirit,” is Schadt’s chosen moniker for her dream: 60 rolling acres of preserved farmland housing 14 rescued horses — the indisputable stars in her dream of helping people with special needs.

Schadt learned early the comfort horses provide, as a 5-year-old riding on her family’s Allentown, Pa., farm.

“In my personal evolution, horses were very important in helping me to find my own path to healing, my life’s path and the strength to overcome challenges” she says.

The daughter of Mary Rutherford Schadt ’46 came to Bucknell as a prospective German major. But Bucknell widened her world and changed her path. Noncredit yoga and meditation classes stoked her first interest in nontraditional healing.

Schadt transferred to Allentown Hospital School of Nursing and graduated in 1977 with a registered nursing degree. She worked in nursing and medical practice management for 17 years, and subsequently became a certified equine specialist for equine-assisted therapies. She designed EAGLE, her own distinctive therapy curriculum that incorporates rescued horses’ real-life stories.

“It’s wonderful to see how the horses’ stories of overcoming seemingly insurmountable problems resonate with children,” Schadt says.

In 1994, she incorporated Manito Equestrian Center on her family horse farm in Allentown to teach riding and life skills through compassionate interaction with horses. In 2002, she added the nonprofit Manito Life Center, offering therapeutic programs for children (and later adults) with special needs, including social and emotional obstacles, and cognitive and physical disabilities.

Over the years, Manito has been the spot where children spoke first words and took first unassisted steps for the love of a horse.

At 62, Schadt still follows her dream, now aiming for hospital partnerships and designing a succession plan so Manito sustains. She welcomes fellow Bucknell innovators to join her by visiting Manitocenters.com.

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