Our Community: Cowichan Therapeutic Riding Association

Our Community: Cowichan Therapeutic Riding Association


[MUSIC…] NARRATOR: These are the stories. MAN: There is a foundation out there that helps you get back into it. NARRATOR: Of organizations making a difference. MAN: What really limits our ability to do
something is people’s imagination. NARRATOR: And empowering others across Canada. MAN: When I get into that sledge, I’m a free,
man. I’m playing hockey. WOMAN: It’s a great organization, and it’s worth supporting. NARRATOR: In Our Community. Nestled in the beautiful Cowichan Valley on the Providence Farm grounds is the Cowichan Therapeutic Riding Association
or CTRA. Here participants come together to share in the experience of therapeutic horse riding, an equine-based wellness programs designed
for persons with special needs. One such participant is 11-year-old Atticus
Scouley, who at the age of 2 was diagnosed with cerebral
palsy. Atticus was quick to share why he loves horse
riding so much. ATTICUS SCALLY: When I get to just get on
the horse and hang out with a little bit. I get to go around the ring. And I mean, I get to do some really cool stuff. Like, sometimes the horse will take out this
big ball. And it’s like horse soccer. He goes at it, and swings his head around, and goes to the other side of the ring. And it’s really fun just being on his back
while he does that. And then I haven’t gotten quite into canter
yet. It’s a little too much. But I do like trotting around the ring. [horse snorts] CATE SCALLY: Atticus, it’s time to get ready
to go riding. Are you going to get changed? ATTICUS SCALLY: Yeah. NARRATOR: At their home in the Cowichan Valley, Atticus and his mother Cate prepare to leave for their regular visit to Providence
Farms. The way Atticus runs upstairs, it’s hard to imagine that at one time he was unable
to walk at all. But Kate says it’s been a long road to get
where he is today. CATE SCALLY: Atticus’s diagnosis was spastic
diplegic cerebral palsy. Until he was three, he couldn’t walk. He had such severe spasticity in his legs that he couldn’t get his heels on the ground and we had Devon surgery so that he could
walk at all. In Halifax, our neighbours had a child with
a disability who had ridden competitively for many years, and she encouraged us to find a horse therapy
program. And so when we moved back to Vancouver, Atticus had several years there where he was doing hippotherapy, and it was super
helpful for him. So hippotherapy is physiotherapy on a horse. The physiotherapist leads the therapy. But instead of using a bed or the tools in
a gym, the horse is the equipment that the patient
is working with. INSTRUCTOR: [inaudible] adapt, overcome, right? That’s it. Do you know what happens when the [inaudible]
comes to the middle of the [inaudible].. NARRATOR: Atticus says the therapy has had a huge impact on his life. ATTICUS SCALLY: It Improved my life a lot. I’ve been able to stand up straighter. I’ve been able to get a more brisk walk. It gives me a lot more confidence with being around animals, like horses and
anything in that variety. CATE SCALLY: When Atticus first started riding, the horses were very big. He was very small. And there was a lot of confidence-building
for him in figuring out that these big animals were at his service, so to speak. He never got to use a proper saddle. He was always on a pad because the horse movement was so integral to his own movement that he needed to be as close as possible
to the horse’s body. And then when he got older and he was moved
to CTRA, his confidence is such now that he is an independent
rider. And he gets to use a proper saddle, and he’s got his feet in the stirrups. And he’s handling the horse. And it’s just him and his coach, where he used to have two side walkers and a leader in order to be able to ride. ATTICUS SCALLY: Mom, I’m ready! Let me get my shoes on. Mom, do you know where my riding helmet is? CATE SCALLY: Yeah, it’s in the trunk of the
car. ATTICUS SCALLY: Thanks. CATE SCALLY: You’re welcome. NARRATOR: Now it’s time for Atticus and his mom to head to CTRA for today’s riding
session. [engine starts] CATE SCALLY: The tide’s really low, Atticus. Look at all the land out there. ATTICUS SCALLY: Oh, wow. That is a big open area. NARRATOR: It’s not a far drive, and the location couldn’t be more idyllic, with large open
fields surrounded by great green pines. And the environment itself fuels therapeutic. Standing out on the grounds, Jessie Fraser, the Executive Director of CTRA, shared with
us how the Association came to exist in the Cowichan
Valley. JESSIE FRASER: So the facility itself is located on Providence Farm, which was owned by the Sisters of St. Ann back since,
I think, 1865. And since the ’60s, it’s been created as a therapeutic community for just any individuals
that face any kind of challenges whatsoever. So it’s a safe, inclusive environment for
individuals to participate in. Many of the structures here on the farm are very older heritage buildings. And we’re at the base of Mount Tzouhalem. And it’s a very wild area. It’s tonnes of forests, and it’s absolutely a beautiful, peaceful location- very therapeutic as far as the entire environment
here. NARRATOR: The property has outdoor riding
trails, an indoor arena, and of course, the stables, where there are horses of all shapes and sizes. JESSIE FRASER: Hey, Loki. [horses nicker] This is the barn where our horses are housed. Behind me is one of our therapy horses, Loki. We have 15 horses on-site at this time in
our programs. And all of them are-most of them are older,
I should say. Most of them are kind of geriatric. And we need horses that have been there and
done it all. Because they are fright/flight animals, we need horses that have been exposed to so
much and aren’t fazed by anything-sounds, or movement,
or colour. So we feel that they’re worth their weight
in gold. Other people may not find them very valuable because of their age. And some of them may be arthritic or have some health issues. NARRATOR: Because of their age, some of CTRA’s
horses require extra care, like the regular washing
of hooves to keep disease at bay. JESSIE FRASER: For us, they are perfect creatures for what we do. And this is Loki here. He is a Norwegian Fjord. This is a very popular breed for therapeutic
riding. They are very, very strong, and they are kind
of built like a draft horse, like a horse that pulls carriages and whatnot, except that they’re much smaller. So they’re closer to the ground. So Loki has his tack on. And the tack is the equipment. So that would be the saddle, and the bridle,
and whatnot. That’s because he’s just been prepared for
his next lesson, his riding lesson. So he will be in the arena very soon. Norwegian Fjords are known for their very
calm and quiet temperament. They truly are the heart of this program. See you later, Loki. I’m just going to close the door for safety
reasons. We just want the doors closed when no one
is in attendance. Hey, Frosty. Hi, Grady. Grady is our largest horse on site. In fact, he is the largest horse on Vancouver
Island. In fact, he may be the largest horse in the
province. He is 19 hands. And what that means is the traditional, or
old-fashioned, way of measuring a horse is when you place
your hands one on top of the other, starting from the ground, from the horse’s foot. Then that gives you an idea of just how big
this horse is. So we call him our gentle giant. He is probably one of the friendliest and
kindest horses I have ever met. He’s very popular here. See you later, Grady. I’m just going to close your door. I’m going to take you into our rider room,
past Grady and Loki’s stall. So nice, spacious bright room. And this is where we keep all of our riding
helmets and two dozen sets of boots. From here, I’m going to take you up the ramp,
which leads directly into the indoor arena. There may be horses on the other side, so I’m just going to open the door really
slowly. And now we’re just going to go directly into the mounting area. Our mounting area is specific to therapeutic
riding facilities. All our horses have to be specially trained because we do very unusual mounts and dismounts. Everything is accessible so that we can take
wheelchairs up here. There’s different levels of blocks as well, so that for the tiny little kids that need to be higher up to be able to mount
the horses. Then we provide whatever level of mounting block that they need. And for children and adults who are not able to weight bear at all, we do have an
electric hoist. And it’s a transfer unit similar to what people
in wheelchairs would use to get in and out of a tub or in
and out of a bed. And all our horses, or several of our horses, are trained, specially trained, to handle having a person floating over their backs and gently being put down on the horse’s back with the use of an electric hoist. Without an electric hoist, there are many
people that would not be able to ride because it
would be just too difficult transferring them by hand onto a living animal like that. NARRATOR: Climbing the mounting blocks has become a regular routine for 12-year-old
Brenden Edwards, who is another longtime participant
of CTRA. His friend, Frances, says the team at CTRA has been instrumental in helping with his
physical disabilities. FRANCES NUTTGENS: Well, medically, it’s brought Brenden a lot stronger with some of the parts of his body that don’t operate
as well as they could for his age. And they really straightened his back, and it helped his arms and legs become stronger. And he loves it. He loves all the people down here. They’ve been fantastic for him. INSTRUCTOR: One of the things that Brenden
likes to do is to do a little walk on the side. BRENDEN EDWARDS: I like slowly walking up
the hill. INSTRUCTOR: Are you ever going all the way
back into the arena? JESSIE FRASER: The motivation behind the program is just to help anyone with facing challenges. But those with physical disabilities, there are so many physical benefits. The horse’s pelvis moves in a very similar
manner to that of the human pelvis. So a horse is essential in this part of the individual’s therapy. I’ve met kids, also, that I know of one who was diagnosed with spina bifida, who was told she would never walk. And long story short, not only can she walk, but she can run now. So I’ve seen just literally miracles happen. ANNOUNCER: Our Community will return after
the break. We now return to Our Community. [music playing] NARRATOR: As Atticus Scally arrives at the
Cowichan Therapeutic Riding Association, it’s clear that he can hardly wait to get out of
the car. His mother, Cate, says this is a regular procedure. CATE SCALLY: So Atticus rides twice a week. And he begs to change in the car because then
he’s ready to go when he hits the ground. He doesn’t want to have to get there and then go change his clothes into riding clothes. Because he wants to go and hang out with the
horses. Probably spends 30 to 40 minutes- [horse whinnies] –socializing before we even get to his lesson. NARRATOR: With all the horses in the stable
properly greeted, Atticus makes his way upstairs to meet with his coach, Lisa Pink. LISA PINK: How you doing? ATTICUS SCALLY: Good. LISA PINK: Good. You made it here, no problem. My name is Lisa Pink. And I’m the head instructor at the Cowichan
Therapeutic Riding Association. And behind me is where we do a lot of our
work in the indoor arena. And there’s activity happening right now and
a lesson going on. So you’ll hear the horses walking around,
sneeze. You’ll hear some people. And the birds are active as well. My role as an instructor here is to make sure to pick the right type of horse for the
program. Out of every 10 horses I look at, usually
only one will work, because they need to be very special. My other job is to mentor new and upcoming
instructors, keep them educated- Brenden’s going to bring his right leg over in front of the horse. –give them riding lessons so that they can
understand the different equipment, and learn how it
feels, and trying to always encourage them to practise
what they’re preaching. The reward that I get from being at the therapy
program is seeing all the happy faces, working with
the horses. And you don’t give up. Nobody gives up. You keep going, you keep going. And then when that progression happens, it’s
fabulous. I think that’s the reward. Stepping up, getting the horse nice and close to the mounting block. NARRATOR: For Atticus, the relationship he has with his coach is very important. ATTICUS SCALLY: My old instructor from the mainland that I used to have was
all about the task at hand. There was no time for anything else. You need to train. But with Lisa, I get to hang out with her
a little bit more. CATE SCALLY: That relationship between his
coach, Lisa, and Atticus has been really interesting to
watch, watching her get to know him and to understand
what he needs. She is a friend to him. LISA PINK: Look at you, Atticus. CATE SCALLY: He will talk to her, and she’ll listen and hear about-he’ll tell
her things that he wouldn’t talk to anyone else about. Because they spend this intimate time together, just the three of them- Lisa, and Atticus, and the horse. LISA PINK: Make sure your hands are in front, that you have control- your reins don’t get too long. CATE SCALLY: He depends on her, and she’s
learned- she used to give him a [inaudible].. When he had come in-oh, I’ve had a bad day,
blah, blah, blah. She’d be like, OK, well, maybe today we’ll just groom the horse. She’s figured out that she needs to push him, and that’s awesome. She encourages him and gives some challenges. And then he always rises to it. LISA PINK: Ready to rip, Snort, and go? Do you want to see what the obstacle course
is? It’s pretty similar. [inaudible] to the level of that. He’s going to look out the window. A little bit different. ATTICUS SCALLY: Yep, the maze is a little
different. LISA PINK: I simplified it a bit so that Brenden
can do it too after you. NARRATOR: Obstacle courses at CTRA are customized to the rider using a variety
of platforms, cones, and props. LISA PINK: We’re going to go get his pony. Opening Frosty’s door. All the way. There you go. I’m going to grab your reins and make sure
that you go around him and go to his shoulder. Oh, here he comes. He’s going to turn around. Hi, Frosty. OK, collecting up the reins. I’m bringing Frosty. This way. And you want to always lead him on the left
side. Frosty needs to say hello to you. OK, so opening up the stall door, [? footing ?] on the ground, looking where
you’re going. There you go. Make sure you stay beside Frosty. Don’t pull on him. NARRATOR: As Atticus, Lisa, and Frosty the horse make their way to the riding arena, members of the CTRA team prepare more horses
for participants still to come today. And according to Jessie Fraser, the Executive
Director of CTRA, there’s many on their way. JESSIE FRASER: We currently have approximately
100 riders every week. And they range in age from 4 years old to
70, although over 90% are under the age of 18. NARRATOR: So how does the facility support so many riders? Lisa Pink says that CTRA relies heavily on help from the community. LISA PINK: We have over 100 volunteers that come every week. And with some of our riders, the continuity of the team of people that are working with
them is really important, because change can be
difficult. NARRATOR: Brenden’s friend, Frances, says this continuity has been a big help in
Brenden’s development. FRANCES NUTTGENS: Well, Lisa’s the instructor
for Brenden and has always been. And she knows him very well. She’s very astute on understanding what kind of therapies that are needed for
each individual. LISA PINK: Let’s stand up for a moment. So our first lap around is just walk. BRENDEN EDWARDS: Yep. LISA PINK: Warm him up, get into the groove. BRENDEN EDWARDS: Yep. LISA PINK: Find your groove. BRENDEN EDWARDS: Yep. LISA PINK: All right, all the way around. Walk on, Amber. Good job. So now you’re heading in a straight line and then turning across the diagonal of the
arena. There’s obstacles a little in your way. FRANCES NUTTGENS: I really trust her judgement on what she sets out for him to accomplish. NARRATOR: Brenden and Frances even sing CTRA’s praises when recalling a particularly scary event. BRENDEN EDWARDS: When I was riding in the
barn a long time ago, I was riding Ember. And my brother and I were riding horses. We were riding. And suddenly, there was a helicopter flying
solo to the roof. And tin roof, obviously. It flew so low, it spooked my horse, spooked
his horse. FRANCES NUTTGENS: The CTRA staff were excellent. The second they realized that horse was going
to bolt, the instructors were on top of the kids, not
the horse. They were there to protect the children. And they set it up when he could come back
and get on the horse in a private, quiet time to make sure that the confidence was rebuilt
back up to being good riders. So he loves telling the story to everybody. [laughs] ANNOUNCER: Our Community will return after
the break. We now return to Our Community. NARRATOR: With his horse, Frosty, properly
tacked and his coach, Lisa, at his side, Atticus Scally is ready to begin today’s therapeutic
exercise- an obstacle course through the CTRA arena. LISA PINK: Stepping up, getting the horse
nice and close to the mounting block, standing square with
your feet. Good man. Well done, Atticus. Jumping up all on his own, getting the tough
leg over the back of the saddle. Feet in the stirrups. The reins. Ready? ATTICUS SCALLY: Yeah. LISA PINK: Walk on. So we’re going to walk all the way around
the ring on the right rein. This gives time for Frosty to have a look
at everything, all the obstacles that are in here, anything
new. So one more trot down the long side of the
arena. Are you ready? ATTICUS SCALLY: Yep. LISA PINK: Squeeze your leg a little too. Oh, very good. That’s nice. He understood your body language. NARRATOR: After a couple of warm-up laps around
the arena, the obstacle course becomes more challenging. Tasks include weaving between pylons, moving plastic rings from one post to another
using a foam sword. LISA PINK: Good for you, Atticus. That’s a lovely stretch. NARRATOR: And even an exercise called the
Pony Express, in which Atticus delivers prop letters to an old-fashioned mailbox. LISA PINK: OK, here we go. So delivering the mail through the poles. Don’t fall off the edge or the Billy Goat
Gruffs will get you. Opening the mail, delivering it. Closing the lid, putting the flag up, saying that Atticus and Frosty have delivered
the mail. You ready now? ATTICUS SCALLY: Yep. NARRATOR: And at long last, it’s time for
a little bit of horse soccer. [music playing] LISA PINK: Frosty pushes the ball and scores. Makes the goal. And that’s the end of our obstacle course. ATTICUS SCALLY: I’ve just finished my ride
today. And I feel great. But I’m really tired. It was very difficult to- with some parts of riding. But it got easier and easier as we went along. And practise makes perfect, right? NARRATOR: It may have been a long road to get to where he is today, but with the
help of CTRA, Atticus is just one of many on a life-changing
journey. And his mother, Cate, says it’s a path well
worth riding. CATE SCALLY: Watching Atticus learn and take
things on beyond what he’s being asked to do. He’s going over and above now, just because
he wants to. And that’s a great feeling for me to see. We are completely committed to CTRA. We will be there as long as Atticus is willing
to be. I think that horses will be a constant in
his life for the rest of his life. ATTICUS SCALLY: Probably until I’ve outgrown every horse in the barn. Yeah. [music playing] NARRATOR: Producer/Director Mike Wavrecan. Writers Adrien Sala and John Roney. Interviewer Adrien Sala. Director of Photography Chris Wilson. Production Coordinator/Camera Operator Stephanie
Roussinos. Location Audio Mark Planiden. Editor John Roney. Sound Mix Gilles Maillet. Integrated Described Video Specialist Simone
Cupid. Narrator Jim Van Horne. Graphics Andrew Antonello. Regional Content Specialist Sylvi Fekete. Coordinating Producer Jennifer Johnson. Director, Production Cara Nye. Director, Programming Brian Perdue. VP, Programming and Production John Melville. President and CEO David Errington. Copyright 2019 Accessible Media, Inc.

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