You don’t have to ride a horse to experience their healing nature. Interacting with them face-to-muzzle on the same level proves to be just as rewarding. This past year 46 people, non-ambulatory and with significant intellectual and physical disabilities, from Pony Bird residential care facility partook in Unmounted Activities a newly expanded service at Ride On St. Louis. Each week groups of six would visit Ride On St. Louis for the two hour experience that operated up close and personal with staff, horses and residents in our indoor arena. The specialized dust free and easy to tread footing in our indoor arena truly makes this precious experience possible with ease of navigation for the residents, who all require wheelchairs for mobility. Inquisitive horses sink their faces into laps or wait quietly for their guests to reach up for a pat or try a bit of brushing. Clients in Unmounted Activities see, smell, hear and touch their way through horsemanship with activities that cover equine diet, grooming, caring for hooves, and education in coat colors and breeds to live demonstrations of gait patterns and riding.
This program provides a refreshing atmosphere alleviating boredom and revitalizing the mind and body. It is highly engaging and motivating, and we often see participants who don’t typically lift their heads lift and hold their heads up as they interact with the horses, reach their hands and even feet to feel the soft coat of a gentle giant and feed them a variety of equine treats. For most of the residents this activity is highly engaging and motivates a focused look, lifting heads, and reaching hands or even feet, to feel the soft coat of a gentle giant. The day concludes with our unmounted equestrians feeding treats to their favorite equine. “The Pony Bird staff who have worked with these individuals for decades, were blown away with how well the individuals responded and how patient and kind the Ride On St. Louis staff were,” shares Nicole Kyle, BSE, Program Manager at Pony Bird. “This unique opportunity gave the individuals at Pony Bird a chance to expand their world and interactions. It [was] something extraordinary and for that I will be forever grateful to the donors and staff at Ride On St. Louis.” Unmounted Activities is designed to transfer benefits and encourage personal discovery, behaviors and skills to promote human growth, development and quality of life.
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