Riding a horse can help develop weak muscles and improve core strength. The gentle rocking from a well-trained horse can improve circulation and reduce stress. The more you ride the more confidence and independence you’ll develop, which can lead to learning in other areas.
Lynn Moseley, volunteer Board President at Valley Therapeutic Equestrian Association has seen first-hand the therapeutic, empowering effects of equine therapy.
“Valley is really an incredible place. A beautiful country setting and an inviting, unbiased environment for riders of all ages and abilities. When speaking with parents of some of our riders, you immediately understand how important these sessions are for their children. They get so much out of their time with us. The stories from these people are incredibly heart-warming.”
During the pandemic VTEA paused their therapy sessions because their traditional riders are often immunocompromised or require hands-on support that isn’t possible with physical distancing. But their horses were well-suited to help with the ‘echo pandemic’ of mental health challenges.
“When we started to see the effects the pandemic was having on our front-line workers, we also saw an opportunity to help them. We immediately started working on a program that could provide these front-liners with some relief from the constant stress and anxiety they are experiencing. We’ve had over 30 people contact us so far, and we’re booking these recreational therapeutic equine experiences through July and into August,” Moseley says. “It’s so emotional. Our very first front-line worker found such relief working with one of our therapy horses —she said she didn’t realize how much she needed it and immediately booked her next session.”
Participate: Before COVID-19, the majority of VTEA’s riders required a physician referral, and riders typically came for therapy related to mental and physical disabilities like Cerebral Palsy, Autism, MS, and more. The new Front Line Heroes Program (as well as the program in the works for those with PTSD and anxiety) does not require a prescription or referral. If you or someone you know might benefit from equine therapy, reach out to VTEA to learn more!
Volunteer: VTEA volunteers assist with lessons by leading horses or walking beside riders (six feet away). “You don’t need any experience, we provide all the necessary training. And it’s such a pleasant environment! Supportive, welcoming, non-judgemental and outdoors, plus you get to spend time with these amazing and well-trained horses,” Moseley says. Volunteers can also help with barn work, fundraising, and administration.
Donate:Know a front-line worker who would benefit from some stress-relief? Gift them an equine experience! You can also donate to the VTEA to facilitate sessions for other front-line workers in need. “We receive funding from government programs as well as private donors,” Moseley says. “When COVID-19 hit, we went from a healthy revenue stream to nothing overnight, but we still had to feed our horses. We are blessed to have such supportive horse owners who readily stepped up to help alongside our amazing long-time donors.”
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