When Jason first started riding at Kamloops Therapeutic Riding Association (KTRA) three years ago, they had a lead rope on the horse, and an adult walking on each side of the horse. Now he rides completely independently, is excellent at trotting and has won first place ribbons in two obstacle courses at KTRA Annual Horse Shows.
Jason and his younger brother both ride at KTRA and both have significant sensory challenges. Certain sounds really bother them and they are very sensitive to temperature, sunlight and wind. Even wearing certain clothing like riding helmets or gloves can be a big challenge. But, when they are on the horses, they are so immersed in the horseback riding experience, that they will put up with these ‘sensory annoyances’ and get used to them.
The time spent at KTRA has helped improve social skills, communication and transitions in a very natural, calm and fun way, while learning a new skill.
“Confidence, freedom and joy are all benefits this program provides for my sons,” said Jason’s mother “and for that I am grateful.”
Jason is currently working on Dressage (where the horse and rider are expected to perform a series of predetermined movements from memory)—he loves this challenge!
“When we go out to KTRA each week, it feels like this quiet and beautiful country oasis,” said Jason’s mother. “I am so grateful that they provide these services. I often think about all of the work that is involved—saddling up the horses, teaching the lesson, taking off the saddle and brushing the horses down, feeding and taking care of the horses—all of this requires so much time and money that most families that are dealing with serious medical conditions, just don’t have.”
Program support and funding from the United Way makes it possible for programs and services provided by organizations like the KTRA possible. Without funding from donors, kids like Jason and his brother would miss out on such opportunities.
Jason’ mother said her son enjoys one-on-one private lessons and is absolutely thriving! At times it can be very stressful for families trying to meet the needs of each family member without extra support. At KTRA they provide that extra support.
“The program allows my sons to follow their passions, reach their full potential and build independence.”
*Name changed for privacy