RANCHO SANTA FE — Helen Woodward Animal Center had a monumental day for the children and adult students of its Therapeutic Riding Program Oct. 11.
Parents, friends and family members gathered in the center’s riding arena to enjoy the 2014 Therapeutic Riding Show, providing riders the opportunity to show off their newly-developed equine skills and receive trophies for their accomplishments. The event is often the very first time the students have ever been recognized in such a special way.
The Center’s Therapeutic Riding Program benefits children and adults who have a variety of special needs from cerebral palsy, Down’s syndrome and autism to stroke recovery and learning disabilities. Students ride specially-trained horses with certified instructors in weekly sessions to develop increased balance and muscle control, improve concentration and short-term memory and enhance their confidence and self-esteem.
The program aims to keep learning fun for both students and the center’s therapy horses, by incorporating a variety of games. The basic riding skills incorporate all parts of the body (hands, legs, and eyes) and also aid in developing core strength and balance from sitting upright during riding and controlling their horse.
In attendance were members of Charity Fair Horse show Kathy Kilbourne and Toni Nickell who helped President and CEO Mike Arms present awards to riders. Since 2001, this organization has donated $125,000 toward Therapeutic Riding equine and student expenses, as well as the center’s Pet Encounter Therapy costs. Other key supporters are the Harriet E. Pfleger Foundation, the Dickinson Foundation, and The Stauffer Foundation.
Riding Manager and Instructor Alicia Roe said, “This show is really about more than technical achievements. The event is meaningful to our clients because they get a chance to show off and take the spotlight, often for the first time. “This is simply one of my favorite events each year. The joy and happiness you see from everyone riding, watching and participating is completely contagious. It’s all heart out there.”
If you would like more information on the program or providing funding support, contact Therapeutic Riding Manager Alicia Roe at (858) 756-4117, ext. 321, or go to animalcenter.org.