In the age of COVID, where businesses and nonprofits are struggling to keep their doors open, Valley Therapeutic Equestrian Association (VTEA) is headed towards the future like a stampeding stallion thanks to support from the community and a myriad of COVID-safe measures.
VTEA has been providing therapeutic horseback riding and hippotherapy treatments to individuals of all ages and abilities since 1983.
Lynn Moseley, VTEA president, said perhaps the biggest struggle is knowing there are so many clients who need to return to their therapeutic sessions but are unable to do so due to COVID.
Some are regressing as they wait.
“We can’t have side-walkers because of COVID, so the list of those waiting to return is sadly long,” she said.
Normally, at this time of year, VTEA would be planning events that would bring family members and the community together, but VTEA can’t hold events as per COVID rules.
However, throughout the pandemic, the organization has found multiple ways of reshaping its role in the community and being able to help.
The Front Line Heroes Program was introduced last summer, which aims to provide relief to front line workers from the mental stress and anxiety experienced working on the front lines of the pandemic.
These one-hour restorative recreational sessions, under the guidance of a CanTRA certified instructor, are offered for $60.
VTEA will soon be officially announcing the launch of their Equine Facilitated Wellness (EFW) program.
Individuals seeking help dealing with loss, grief, stress and anxiety or working through a life challenge, will be able to work with VTEA’s mental health professionals alongside empathetic therapy horses.
“VTEA is a 100 per cent therapeutic centre and offers a safe, supportive place to be in an empathetic, unbiased and nonjudgmental environment steeped in nature,” Moseley explained. “EFW can make such a big difference and many clients come to us looking for something safe to do to work through their grief or trauma.”
She explained how the relaxing nature of caring for or riding horses can help with connection, releasing tension, and lowering anxiety.
Staff members have even gone that extra mile to put a smile on children’s faces by shaving hearts into some of the horses’ hair.
Like the Front Line Hero Program, which accepts donations to cover appointments for those who may not be able to afford the program, Moseley said anyone can donate or sponsor the program to support the mental health needs of others.
“Our soon to be released new website will have forms for anyone looking to donate or an intake form for people wanting to take part in the program,” Moseley added.
With 11 horses on site, four equine staff, and a handful of very dedicated volunteers aiding riders, Moseley said there is always room for helping hands and donations to keep the association running.
TDK Terminals and Phoenix Truck & Crane, for instance, recently delivered a refurbished shipping container in early February as a gift, which Moseley said will be used for the safe storage of items needed for their programs.
Looking to the future after COVID, when clients can once again take their time at the stables, VTEA plans to install a sitting area under a large, shady tree where people can rest after their ride and be safely among the horses.
“We love what we do and we are positioning ourselves to be here for the long term. We couldn’t do it without our VTEA family and community and we are incredibly thankful for them,” Moseley concluded.
Located at 256th Street in Aldergrove – just south of the Fraser Highway – people can visit www.vtea.ca for more information.
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