Since 2012, Erin Houck-Toll has served as a board member with Special Equestrians, a Lee County organization that provides therapeutic horseback-riding activities for children and adults with disabilities. There, she helps the nonprofits with events, fundraising and volunteer recruitment.
But for Houck-Toll, a Florida Bar board-certified health and tax attorney with Henderson Franklin in Fort Myers, involvement with the group is a natural extension of a passion that dates back to her childhood: horseback riding.
She and her parents lived on rural acreage in Buckingham, where they kept many pets, such as dogs, pigs, goats, and, of course, ponies and horses. “[I’ve been riding them] all of my life,” Houck-Toll says.
She kept up with her hobby during undergraduate studies at Cornell University. Houck-Toll did take time away from riding, though, as she pursued her Juris Doctor at Tulane University and Master of Laws at the University of Florida.
Now that she’s back home, Houck-Toll has assembled a new menagerie of three horses, four dogs and three cats. She and her husband, Matthew Toll, have 10 acres in North Fort Myers.
And, sometimes you’ll find her back in Buckingham, where Special Equestrians is headquartered. There, she gets to visit with horses, such as Freckles in the photo above, but also listens to the uplifting stories of riders, such as a parents talking about their nonverbal child who began speaking after some riding therapy.
“You’ll never find a better-run organization, in my opinion,” she says of Special Equestrians and its staff and volunteers.