First off, I must say.. people who have disabilities (physical or mental) have always had a special place in my heart. Just because someone is different doesn't make them any less of a human than you or I, however, I think society as a whole has the tendency to turn away or stare; in turn making someone who has a disability feel more isolated and afraid. Which is really sad to think about.. it's not like the individual chose to have a disability, they were given a life and that life deserves to be lived to the fullest!
The Kamloops Therapeutic Riding Association (KTRA) was formed in 1988. It is a non-profit charitable organization that provides therapeutic horseback riding to individuals with disabilities. There are numerous positive outcomes for those who participate in the KTRA programs including increased self-esteem, improved concentration and improvement in socialization skills.
I had the pleasure of attending their Open House on September 10th as they welcome everyone to their new home located at 4155 Shuswap Road. This move brings many exciting changes that will enable the association to offer more to the riders, volunteers and horses! Their new home is just under 18 acres, owned by a lovely couple who have so graciously allowed the KTRA to move in; the heated barn has 12 stalls, wash-rack with hot and cold water, bathroom, laundry and feed room in addition to the 70X144ft covered arena, 60X120ft outdoor arena, 24 individual outdoor paddocks with covered shelters, auto-waterers, pastures for the horses to graze and a large hay shed... OH! and a beautiful view!
What does this mean for the Kamloops Therapeutic Riding Association? They will be able to offer 4 seasonal sessions rather than 2 since having the covered riding arena will allow year round riding, which I believe is huge.. I know I get down when I can't ride in the winter so I can only imagine what this means for those who participate in the programs. Another bonus is that the horses in the program will be able to graze in the pastures. Horses are horses, they are not meant to be in paddocks and stalls all day.. so with regards to the health of the horse, this is also a big win for the association. They can stretch their legs and just be the magnificent creature they are.
I do have to give credit to a few people who have dedicated so much of their time and efforts to keep the association going.. Bill Anderson (President), Karen Knight (Vice-President), Cherise Avril (Head Instructor) and my friend Ashley Sudds (Executive Director). Without all of you and the volunteers, I'm sure the riders in the program would feel like they were missing something. The amount of joy that this association brings to these individuals must be immeasurable! Kudos to you!!
Pictured is Cherise (left) and Ashley (right)