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Horses & Horizons seek volunteers to help with lessons

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    Horses & Horizons is in need of volunteers for its spring riding lessons. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Published March 20. 2019 12:49PM

Horses & Horizons Therapeutic Learning Center Inc. is getting ready to begin its spring session of therapeutic horseback riding lessons for children and adults with disabilities.

In order for the program to be safe and effective, many volunteers are needed.

The experienced staff will teach you what you need to know, so experience with horses and/or people with disabilities is helpful, but not necessary.

A training session for new volunteers is scheduled from 1 to 5 p.m. April 13 at the center, located 10 miles south of Tamaqua near Route 309. Anyone who wishes to become a lesson volunteer is required to attend this hands-on training.

Horses & Horizons is a registered nonprofit organization that is staffed entirely by volunteers. It offers therapeutic riding lessons on Monday and Wednesday evenings from the end of April through the end of October. The minimum age for lesson volunteers is 14. There is no maximum age, as long as a volunteer is in good health and is able to walk for an hour at a time.

Volunteers must successfully complete the April 13 training session. New volunteers will be trained to become side aides who assist riders during lessons.

Horses & Horizons also needs people with horse experience to become horse leaders, and it welcomes the volunteer assistance of professionals in the allied health fields of physical, occupational and speech therapy.

“Our volunteers are often amazed at the progress our special riders make physically, mentally, and/or emotionally from participating in lessons,” Jane Ostroski, volunteer coordinator said. “It is very rewarding to help make a difference in their lives. Volunteering here is a great way to feel good about what you are doing and have fun at the same time.”

Therapeutic horseback riding has been shown to improve balance, posture, strength and coordination. It also helps to increase self-awareness, self-confidence, attention span, and independence. Riders often gain improved social skills as well.

Horses & Horizons serves clients with a wide variety of disabilities including cerebral palsy, autism, attention deficit disorder, developmental delays, intellectual disability, Down syndrome and traumatic brain injury, among others. Lessons are designed to be both therapeutic and fun.

“Some of our riders receive many different types of therapy,” Elaine Smith, program director, said. “Therapeutic horseback riding is by far their favorite, and riding is the highlight of their whole week. It’s the horses that make all the difference. They impart so many benefits to our riders.”

In addition to lesson volunteers, the riding center also needs people to assist with grounds maintenance, cleaning saddles and bridles, and fundraising.

Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer should contact Ostroski at 610-298-2546 or jeohhtlc15@gmail.com.

For information on enrolling a rider, or more information on the center, visit www.horsesandhorizons.org or call Elaine or Harvey Smith at 570-386-5679.

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