Therapeutic Equestrian Center in Holyoke, MA | Connecting Point | Dec. 4, 2018

Therapeutic Equestrian Center in Holyoke, MA | Connecting Point | Dec. 4, 2018


>>>WHEN FATHER ROBERT WAGNER
FOUNDED JERICHO IN THE 1970’S, HIS GOAL WAS TO CREATE AN
ENVIRONMENT THAT WOULD BRING DIGNITY, RESPECT AND WHOLENESS
TO THE LIVES OF PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES. ONE SUCH WAY THEY DO THAT IS
THROUGH HORSEBACK RIDING. IN 1982, AN INDOOR RIDING ARENA
WAS BUILT AND THE THERAPEUTIC EQUESTRIAN CENTER IN HOLYOKE WAS
BORN. TODAY THE CENTER CONTINUES
FATHER WAGNER’S DREAM OF ALLOWING PEOPLE WITH
DISABILITIES TO REACH THEIR HIGHEST POTENTIAL. PRODUCER DAVE FRASER VISITED THE
CENTER RECENTLY AND SHARES THIS STORY. THERAPY WITH
RIDING IS O EVOLVING
WE’RE TRYING TO UNDERSTAND ALL DIFFERENT TYPES OF ABILITIES,
PHYSICAL DISABILITIES, REALIZING WHAT THE HORACE CAN — HORSES O
FOR EMOTIONAL AND SOCIAL DISABILITIES.>>GOING TO TAKE A FEW STEPS
FORWARD, YOU READY?>>THIS IS THE EQUESTRIAN
CENTER, WE’RE LOCATED IN HOLYOKE ON THE GROUNDS OF JERICHO
EXCEPTIONAL SCHOOL FOR CHILDREN AND ADULTS. WHAT WE DO IS BASED ON THE NEEDS
OF THE RIDER. EVERY RIDER IS DIFFERENT. IT CAN BE THAT THEY HAVE AUTISM,
PTSD, AND IT DEPENDS ON THE AGE OF THE RIDER. WE HAVE THE YOUNGEST AT AGE 3
AND THE OLDEST IN THEIR 70s. WHEN SOMEONE COMES HERE FOR
THERAPY BECAUSE THEY HAVE BROKEN THEIR LEG OR HAD SURGERY OR KIDS
THAT NEED THERAPY, QUITE FREQUENTLY IT IS IN A
HOSPITAL-TYPE SETTING AND THIS IS A THERAPY THAT ALLOWS
INDIVIDUALS TO TAKE A RISK IN A VERY CONTROLLED ENVIRONMENT. IT IS ALSO THIS VERY IMPORTANT
EQUALIZER TO A KID. IF WE HAVE A CHILD WITH PHYSICAL
ABILITIES RIDING NEXT TO A CHILD WHO DOESN’T HAVE PHYSICAL
ABILITY, THEY ARE TELLING THE HORSE TO DO THE SAME THING AT
THE SAME TIME.>>THIS HAS BEEN A PASSION OF
MINE AND THIS IS MY YOUNGER BROTHER WHO HAS DOWN SYNDROME. TAKE A DEEP BREATH. THERE YOU GO. SO YOU TAKE THE INDIVIDUAL OUT
OF A CLASSROOM SETTING WHERE THEY DO THE SAME THING EVERY DAY
AND THE HORSE IS DIFFERENT WHICH CHANGES THEIR PERSPECTIVE ON
THINGS AND YOU GET TO DO THINGS IN A FUN ENVIRONMENT.>>THE HORSES WE USE IN OUR
PROGRAM ARE TRUE HEROES AND OBVIOUSLY THE HORSES THAT WE USE
HAVE TO BE VERY SPECIAL. THEY HAVE TO HAVE THE CORRECT
TEMPERAMENT, BE PATIENT AND KIND AND LIKE HAVING PEOPLE TOUCH
THEM AND BEING AROUND THEM. I OFTEN TELL PEOPLE THERAPEUTIC
RIDING CAN BE AS STRESSFUL AS BEING A RACE HORSE OR SHOW
HORSE. MOST OF THE HORSES WE HAVE ARE
DONATIONS OR HORSES WE LEASE FROM INDIVIDUALS.>>EVERYONE HAVE TWO HANDS ON
THEIR REINS?>>I FEEL THIS IS SOMETHING THAT
CAN REALLY MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN THE LIVES OF CHILDREN AND ADULTS
WE WORK WITH AND OVER THE YEARS, I HAVE SEEN IT GO FROM IT WAS
ALL ABOUT JUST KIDS THAT HAD PHYSICAL DISABILITIES. YOU KNOW, 30 YEARS AGO WHEN WE
TALKED ABOUT THERAPEUTIC RIDING, THAT IS WHAT IT WAS. NOW WE’RE TEACHING KIDS BALANCE,
COORDINATION, PAYING ATTENTION, THE CHILD WITH ADHD WHO CAN’T
SIT AT A DESK FOR MORE THAN FIVE MINUTES AND ABLE TO RIDE A HORSE
AROUND FOR 45 MINUTES AND FOLLOW DIRECTIONS SUCCESSFULLY SO WE’RE
GIVING THEM SOMETHING TO BE SUCCESSFUL AT. WE’RE HELPING PEOPLE TO BE ABLE
TO SEE THE POTENTIAL THAT THEY HAVE, WHETHER IT BE A CHILD OR
AN ADULT.>>GOOD JOB!

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