THERAPEUTIC RIDING PROGRAM
Cedar Valley Stables was home to the Durham Therapeutic Riding Association for 9 years.
Article from "This Week Wednesday, October 8, 2003"
Written by Shelley Jordan
"Horseback Riding Is The Perfect Therapy"
'Sandy Hawley Lends A Hand To Local Riders'
Legendary jockey Sandy Hawley may have been the guest of honour but it was the riders who impressed him during the Durham Therapeutic Riding Association Mini-Royal last month.
For the special needs riders it was an opportunity to show off their skills to a national icon during the Mini-Royal. Members have special needs including physical, mental and cognitively challenged. The riders are looking to improve these skills through equestrian therapy.
Mr. Hawley, a three-year supporter of DTRA and two other similar associations, volunteered by helping lift children onto horseback. "This is my first year coming to the Mini-Royal," said Mr. hawley. "I really wanted to do something. I received a letter to come out to an awards ceremony three years ago. It was perfect fit for me, because of the horses."
Mr. Hawley's North American racing career spanned 30 years, as he became the first jockey to win more than 500 races in one season with 6,449 career victories. He is no stranger to challenges, both on the track and off. The Pickering resident and Oshawa native battled skin cancer 11 years ago and won, in spite of a doctor's insistance that he had only months to live. For DTRA member Kelly Morrison Saturday was a dream day. "I'm very excited (Sandy) is here," she beamed. "He's great."
Joanne Peacock, First Rider representative for DTRA and also a challenged member, wrote to Mr. Hawley requesting his help for the Mini-Royal and he jumped at the idea. Elaine Palmer is the treasurer of DTRA and the mother of two member children. Members come from Durham Region to participate in equestrian threapy with the majority under 18. Ms. Palmer is happy with the results of the program, noticing changes in balance and physical co-ordination in her children.
"Their self confidence is higher," said Ms. Palmer, "and that's especially important when challenged children are being mainstreamed in schools. The fact they go horseback riding gives them something to talk about with other kids. My son (who has Down's Syndrome) learned how to count here."
Fund-raising events keep costs down for families who often have more than one child in membership. Insurance costs are tallied into the mix when owner of the ranch, Michele Mueller, works out the price per ride.
"We charge $5 per child and they each get a half an hour ride once a week," said Ms. Mueller, a certified instructor through the Canadian Therapeutic Riding Association.
"A high school student can earn their 40 community hours in one seson with us," said Ms. Mueller, "and they don't need to know about horses to put time in. We're willing to train them."
Ms. Morrison is a challenged member of the association, and often finds she must volunteer time so others can participate. "My main thing here is to ride the horses," said Ms. Morrison, "but when they don't have enough volounteers, I help out. I wanted to be a representative, but I'm very busy, so that wouldn't work."
The association is also looking for sponsers. "If there are any businesses out there who would like to become a regular sponser," said Ms. Palmer, "we'd really appreciate the help. It doesn't have to be big dollars. We just don't want to have to turn a child away because they couldn't afford to join."
"They have to find funds," said Mr. Hawley. "It's great for the kids. I'm glad to be a part of it."