When you think of therapy, you probably don’t think of horseback-riding.
But, that’s just what the Special Riders group is doing, holding their bi-annual riding work shop for the developmentally disabled. Anna Oertel says the experience isn’t only fun for riders, but helps them too.
“The act of riding the horse itself works muscles most of us don’t get a chance to work, let alone someone with physical disabilities,” said Oertel. “It strengthens muscles, it improves posture and coordination and self-confidence. It’s a really neat all-around activity that’s beneficial to the mind and body.”
Riders like Tammy Heitt’s son, Ricky, practice riding, but also do activities which are both fun and physically beneficial. Ricky has been riding with the group for four years.
“Ricky really enjoys it,” said Heitt. “It exhausts him because he uses all of his muscles, but it’s really something he looks forward to all year long. I wish there were more things like this in town. There isn’t a lot for the handicapped to do and this is one of the bright spots of the year.”
“The kids just have such a wonderful reaction to the horses and it’s calming for them,” said volunteer and President of the Zanesville Kiwanis Ginger Boetcher. “The horses know how to handle them. It’s just a neat experience.”
The activity is a six-week program held every spring and fall.
The Zanesville Kiwanis organization funds the program and also volunteers.
This session had 13 participants.