These gentle giants, known as therapy horses, are what make the Proud Equestrian Program a little slice of heaven for kids with special needs.
â??Itâ??s inherently therapeutic;â?? said instructor Bonnie DePue, â??so the movement of the horse helps students, whether it's the need for sensory input, the need to assist in their walking, motor imbalance, whatever it is. The horses have this huge 3-dimensional movement, and so you have a great opportunity to mix something incredibly cool like riding horses, with the opportunity to make positive changes in the lives of these kids.â??
Some of those positive changes, both physically and emotionally, can be seen right away in the child.
â??Itâ??s helped him immensely in his balance and just in confidence,â?? said father Jim Carollo. â??When he first started off, he was very shy and timid about getting on the horse, and now he can't wait to get to the next camp.â??
All of the therapy horses are donated for the week by volunteers whose passion is to see the program continue. â??The horses that work as therapy horses have an ability to read the rider; they really take care of the rider and that's what makes them special,â?? DePue said.
The program is more than just riding, it's a comforting experience. â??To reach down and feel the warmth of the horse and the soft fuzziness...there's just something incredibly powerful about doing what we do.â??
Itâ??s a friendship bond between a child and a horse that's so special, words arenâ??t needed to describe it.