OATS (Offering Alternative Therapy with Smiles, horseback riding for the handicapped) was founded in 1997 by Nancy Lee Heussner. Located on a 50-acre facility on M-15 five miles north of I-75 in Clarkston, today O.A.T.S. and its staff of caring, dedicated and enthusiastic instructors and volunteers provide equine-assisted therapy to more than 100 children and adults with a wide variety of physical and/or emotional disabilities. At its most basic, riders can expect improvement in balance, flexibility and muscle strength and tone. Therapeutic riding also: •Develops communication, listening and attention skills
•Encourages social interaction with others
•Builds confidence and self-esteem
Since its inception, the O.A.T.S. program has made rider safety priority #1. O.A.T.S. is also the only program of its kind in Michigan to run year-round, providing the consistent therapy riders need. Other hallmarks of the O.A.T.S. program:
The goal for every rider at O.A.T.S. is to ride independently (without assistance from a leader and/or side walker), no matter the disability. While not always possible, the important thing is that it’s encouraged.
We strive to engage our riders from the moment they arrive until they leave. Riders are asked to converse, recognize horses and volunteers by name, assist with leading horses out and untacking, notice their surroundings, participate in games and activities, test their limits and most of all, have fun and SMILE. Parents, caregivers, teachers and doctors are often surprised by what our riders can do!
In addition to learning and mastering riding basics, riders are taught equine terminology and sign language. Other basic educational concepts stressed include identifying colors, counting, recognizing letters, words, the seasons and things in nature (birds, animals, flowers, etc.).
O.A.T.S. has always been more than just a place to ride. For parents, it’s a support system and a place to network and share information. For riders, it’s a place to be a “regular” kid through annual events like the Mane Event horse show and fair (held at the Oakland County 4H Fairgrounds in Davisburg every September), Easter, Halloween and holiday parties and our Smiles on Saddles day camp.
The Fabulous Thunderbirds
For over 30 years, THE FABULOUS THUNDERBIRDS have been the quintessential American band. The group's distinctive and powerful sound, influenced by a diversity of musical styles, manifested itself into a unique musical hybrid via such barnburners as Tuff Enuff" and Wrap It Up". Co-founder Kim Wilson, the sole original member, still spearheads the group as it evolves into its newest incarnation.
We started as a straight blues band", vocalist and harmonica player Wilson says. We now incorporate a mixture of a lot of different styles. We're an American music band and we're much higher energy than we were before."
In addition to Wilson, the current Thunderbirds line-up features Jay Moeller on drums, Johnny Moeller and Mike Keller on guitar, and Randy Bermudes on bass.
To be in the T-Birds, you need to understand the different styles of music and different ways of playing," Wilson comments. You have to be willing to adopt a more contemporary style. The guys we have now are able to do that."
The band continues to tour extensively, in both the U.S. and Europe. Wilson is currently writing songs on his own, with band members and other writers. I've primarily been a solo songwriter, but I'm looking forward to experimenting with the guys in the band," Wilson says.
The thread throughout the T-Birds career has been the respect the group commanded for its peerless musicianship and devotion to the sounds of blues, R & B and rock 'n roll. In fact, Muddy Waters called Wilson his favorite harmonica player and vocalist.
Muddy Waters was very good to me," Wilson says. He almost adopted me. I'll never forget him." For Kim Wilson, the musical journey started in Goleta, California. At 17 he began playing the harmonica. His influences included Little Walter, George Harmonica" Smith, Lazy Lester and James Cotton. At the same time, Wilson began singing and was deeply impacted by Bobby Blue" Bland, B.B. King, Otis Rush, Jimmy Rodgers and Muddy Waters.
In search of other musicians who shared his love of the blues, Wilson headed to Minneapolis. He stayed there for a year and a half, playing locally, before moving to the burgeoning music scene of Austin, Texas. It was there that he met Jimmie Vaughan and they founded the T-Birds in 1974. The band developed a reputation as a compelling live act and subsequently signed a record deal with CBS/Epic Records.
In 1979, The Fabulous Thunderbirds released their first self-titled album. Primarily blues influenced, it became a cult classic. Things were wide open back then," Wilson recalls. There were hundreds of stages where bands could show what they had." In subsequent releases, the band started to incorporate more Cajun, rock 'n roll and soul influences. The album T-Bird Rhythm" marked a creative turning point for the group as it collaborated with noted producer Nick Lowe.
In 1986, The Fabulous Thunderbirds reached a commercial peak with the album, Tuff Enuff". The single of the same title as well as the singles Wrap It Up" and Look At That", all went top 40. The song, Tuff Enuff" was featured in the film Gung Ho" starring Michael Keaton. For the remainder of the '80s, the band continued to record and tour, and released the album, Powerful Stuff".
Jimmie Vaughn left in 1989 but Wilson kept the group going, incorporating keyboards into the guitar-driven sound. Kim moved back to California in 1996, continuing to cultivate the T-Birds music. The thing about the T-Birds is that we can play both blues festival and rock venues," Wilson comments. We're a diversified band now and everybody's on the same page."
As a side project Wilson formed Kim Wilson's Blues Revue, a traditional blues band. He also owns a blues label, Blue Collar Music, that has released three albums - one by Kim, one by Big Al" Blake and one by Fred Kaplan. Wilson has also recorded and written with noted session guitarist Danny Kortchmar and drummer Steve Jordan and may tour with them at some point. Howeverhis current focus remains The Fabulous Thunderbirds. This is a great time for this band," he says. We're looking forward to the future."
The Crofoot The Crofoot is committed to presenting the finest talent from around the world and around the corner. Its state-of-the-art sound facilities and top-notch staff ensure that the experience of attending a show at the Crofoot is a memorable one. With years of concert production and promotion under their belt, the Crofoot team makes sure that both the audience and the band are left with a lasting impression of one of the best intimate venues around. The Crofoot is located at 1 S. Saginaw St. in Downtown Pontiac. Visit them at www.thecrofoot.com
The Detroit Blues Society The Detroit Blues Society is a 501 c 3 non-profit dedicated to the history and promotion of Blues music in the Metro Detroit area. Visit them at www.detroitbluessociety.org, on Facebook, or on Myspace. You may contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
O.A.T.S. hrh, Inc.
3090 Weidemann Dr.
Clarkston, MI 48348
For more information
Detroit Blues Society
Steven J. Allen – Promotions
Telephone: (248) 249-5287