By David F. Rooney
The attraction horses hold for children is about to be harnessed through a new therapy program for disabled children.
Therapeutic Riding is a program being introduced to Revelstoke by Tanya Secord, who is holding a public information meeting about this project at the Community Centre on Friday, November 22, at 7 pm.
Tanya, an ardent horse-lover, has long recognized that there is a healthy attraction between children and horses and has just completed a 120-hour CANTRA (Canadian Therapeutic Ridng Association) certification course in Kelowna that prepares her to introduce disabled kids to horses through the Selkirk Saddle Club.
“The connection you can see and feel between many horses and children is almost magical” she said in an interview on Friday.
Therapeutic riding programs have been in existence for years here in BC and elsewhere. Tanya was trained through the Arion Therapeutic Farm in Kelowna. Revelstoke has never had this kind of program and Tanya believes it’s going to be beneficial to the community.
“Therapeutic riding can be used to assist people with disabilities to improve their physical and mental health. It is highly beneficial for balance, strength as well as behavioural, social and communication skills,” she said, adding that she has three horses that are suitable for this program.
It should be of particular assistance to people with cerebral palsy, autism, brain injuries, Down syndrome and other disabilities.
Tanya has seen the huge benefits for the students through her training program in Kelowna.
“One child who was not one to show a lot of expression absolutely lit up every time he got on the horse!”
The children — and adults — in this weekly therapeutic riding program at the equestrian grounds won’t be alone with the animals at any time and that’s where Tanya hopes other members of the community can help out.
“Some of the children will need up to three volunteers to assist them while they’re on a horse,” she said. “This is where I’d love to see the community to get involved. Volunteers are a key to the success of this kind of program. It’s also a great opportunity for people wanting to have involvement with horses to get that chance”
Most children will also need permission from their family physician to participate in this program.
Tanya said the children would be gradually introduced to the horses and to the actual experience of riding. Those first few introductions may be only a few minutes long until the children are confident enough to get in the saddle.
The public meeting for this program takes place this Friday, November 22, at the Community Centre starting at 7 pm. Anyone interested in information on volunteering as well as those with disabled children this will be the place to get your questions answered.
For more information please contact Tanya Secord at 250-814-8606 or send her an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.