Local organization uses horses to aid those with special needs (Audio included)
1/6/2014 7:34:22 PM
By Nate Dunham
Discovery Riders is an accredited therapeutic riding and learning center that enables the partnering of horses and individuals with special needs to promote choice, independence, learning, and quality of life.
The organization gives individuals ages 5 and older the opportunity to learn how to interact with their horse safely, groom, lead, interpret horse behavior, tack up, and ride.
Discovery Riders recently earned its accreditation under The Premier Accredited Center Program offered by the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH International). The organization is one of twelve accredited therapeutic riding and learning centers in Ohio.
Discovery Riders offers a number of programs. The programs include:
Riding and ground activities classes, assisted and family volunteering, positive social interaction (join 4-H and show at the county fair), Silver Saddles ages 55 and older (concentrates on strength and balance), half-day summer horse camp, and mobile anti-bullying program called “Say Whoa with a Little Magic” (a miniature horse named Magic goes into schools to kick off a four-week curriculum that stresses accepting those with differences and celebrating individuality).
Discovery Riders works because riders develop a bond with their horse, volunteers, instructors, and classmates. Participants are accepted for themselves and have an activity they can call their own.
Discovery Riders has helped many individuals:
Ryan is a nine year-old with Asperger’s. He has been with the Riders for three years where he has learned to ride his horse independently and has performed during the annual horse show's opening ceremony by carrying the American Flag. He joined 4-H and became the group's treasurer. He even entered Saddle Club classes during the fair and won two trophies.
Kelly learned how to ride and control her horse. Her confidence grew with each class and she felt good about her accomplishments. She joined 4-H and attended camp. She has a positive interest in her horse, Rox Star, and now mentors new students.
Steven has cerebral palsy and is not able to walk or talk. When he started at Discovery Riders he could not sit up straight and it took five volunteers for him to ride. With funding from private donors and the Bellefontaine Rotary Club, Discovery Riders was able to purchase an independence saddle which allows Steven to ride without the assistance of volunteers.
Executive Director Linda Hauck discusses Discovery Riders.