Saturday, September 21, 2019

Week 5: Happily Helping Humans & Horses

Rides & Reins is a therapeutic riding center located 30 minutes from my house.

The organization is doing incredible things; I'm proud to say my daughters have been a part of it for the past 5+ months, taking full advantage of their homeschool schedule, volunteering three hours each week.

They clean the barn, groom and tack horses, and side-walk with the clients to ensure their safety and overall experience.

I had the pleasure of joining them for a shift for the first time this week. And to say it made an impact on me is an understatement.

When someone participates in therapeutic horseback riding, they are likely to experience physical, emotional, and developmental rewards.

I saw all of that and more.

My afternoon of volunteering started with lots of sweeping (both inside and outside the barn; "It's the first thing our clients see" the President of the organization told me, "We want to make a good impression!") followed by fetching some handsome horses from a field, and then grooming and tacking them.

Grooming horses has always relaxed me. Back when my youngest started taking riding lessons years ago (she now volunteers more than she rides), we would arrive early so I could spend extra time currying coats, cleaning hooves, and brushing tails and manes.

I was happy when it was time to prepare the horses (I got three cleaned and dressed) and it was an honor to actively participate in a student's lesson. I shadowed an experienced side-walker in hopes of returning regularly to lend a hand when my daughters are there.

Seeing my girls work hard for such a good cause, sharing special moments with the riders, giving them smiles and encouragement when they need it, and being patient and calm to provide a peaceful environment for the horses and their riders made me beyond proud to be their mama!

(Especially because patience and calmness don't necessarily come naturally to my girls and me ;) - it turns out this is therapy for us as well!)

I learned a lot about the services Rides & Reins has been providing the past 20 years and the benefits of horseback riding for the students they serve. Here is an excerpt from their website if you'd like to learn more too:

"Because horseback riding gently moves the rider's body in a manner similar to the way a person walks, riders with physical disabilities often show improvements in flexibility, balance, and strength.

Not only does therapeutic riding offer physical benefits to students, but also psychological benefits. The rider feels a sense of achievement that often enhances motivation towards recovery. It also builds concentration skills.

Individuals having special needs often form a unique relationship with a horse that can lead to self-confidence, patience, and increased self-esteem. Medical professionals, as well as the American Physical Therapy Association, recognize the positive qualities of therapeutic horseback riding." (

I'm so glad I joined my girls on this adventure! It was an honor to assist this great mission and I'm looking forward to lending a hand at the barn again soon!

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