By Stephanie Thompson
People Editor 

Children enjoy therapy showcase

 

Star photo by Stephanie Thompson

Rider Ashton Hadley completed his ride by parking his horse with the support of Kaylee Fry.

Therapeutic riding students had the chance to show what they learned during a riding showcase Thursday.

The program called One Stride Closer, a Sweetwater County Board of Cooperative Educational Services equine-assisted therapy program, hosted it's fourth annual riders' showcase.

The program itself started six years ago, according to program director Cindy Brandjord.

The gait of a horse's walk is the closest movement to the way a human walks, Brandjord said. For those with physical disabilities, their hips move with the horse as the horse walks, which is therapeutic for them.

Brandjord said horses help with physical, emotional, social, cognitive and behavior skills, while building a bond between the rider and the horse.

"I have a couple wheel-chair bound students that lead the mini horses on the Greenbelt," she said.

The therapy all depends on what the student's needs are during the six-week long summer program.

For some, the therapy focuses on social skills. For example: one goal a participant has is to simply visit the horse corrals for 30 minutes. Sometimes the child is socially ready to interact with the horse, but not humans and sometimes, the child isn't ready to interact with either.


"Therapy comes in all shapes and forms," Brandjord said. "Equine therapy can be adapted to meet any need."

Brandjord said she often works with physical therapists and occupational therapists to get ideas on what to incorporate.

"The therapists are really important," she said.

Brandjord said not only are they helping children, but they partner with the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation.

According to the website wyomingworkforce.org, "during any given year, the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services - Vocational Rehabilitation Division actively works with more than 4,000 of Wyoming's citizens with disabilities, and, on average, approximately 700 of those citizens successfully complete a rehabilitation program and enter the workforce."

Over the years, the program has really taken off.

For Brandjord, Thursday's showcase was bittersweet.

It was her last one. She will be moving to Colorado and is looking for someone to take over the program and keep it in Green River.

Despite moving, Brandjord said she will be happy to help out the program anyway she can.

Star photo by Stephanie Thompson

Program Director Cindy Brandjord and staff member Samantha Peppers support rider Keaton Marroquin walk his horse Chalis to the side of the arena.

 

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