“Our first year was 1984, we started out with 16 riders and one still rides in the program. So we're starting our 30th year of service and we’ve had over 350 riders in the program,” said Debbie Endlich, president of the 4-H Therapeutic Riding Program.
Parent’s say the program helps riders grow both physically and mentally. They say it’s a challenge that helps their
child develop on so many levels.
“She's grown a lot just riding, and is able to do the thing she’s asked, like walking up the stairs, getting on the horse and be able to hold the rings, which is still pretty hard for her, but were working on it and she loves the horses,” said Sharon Buntman, her daughter currently rides in the program.
“My kids have been doing 11 or 12 years and the benefits are amazing and they love the volunteers a lot of their social [life] is out here,” said Carol Bell.
Volunteers say the program teaches students so much more than how to ride and seeing participants’ smile makes donating their time all worth it.
“Parents bring them here and many times they’re here crying, they’re scared and by the end of the day they're running across the parking lot to see whatever horse they're riding, so its great to see them bond with the horses,” said Horse Leader David Pheobus.
“It's good for the community, you're helping the kids with disabilities, you can see them have fun and its really cool to see them smile,” said Volunteer Garret Ball.
Participants in each class took home awards at Saturday’s Horse Show, including trophies for the most improved riders.
The program is free and relies on donations and volunteers. For more information head to www.fc4htrp.org/
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