Celebrating Therapeutic Riding Students

Helen Woodward Animal Center’s Therapeutic Riding Show Was a Winning Weekend

Jagger and Kristi with Therapeutic Riding Student, Sue

Jagger and Kristi with Therapeutic Riding Student, Sue

October 11 was a monumental day for the children and adult students of Helen Woodward Animal Center’s Therapeutic Riding Program.  Parents, friends and family members gathered in the Center’s Riding Arena to enjoy the 2014 Therapeutic Riding Show providing riders the opportunity to show off their newly-developed equine skills and receive trophies for their accomplishments.  The moving and inspirational event is often the very first time the students have ever been recognized in such a special way and it is truly a memorable experience for the participants and for those who get to cheer them on. Also, for many of the clients it is the only activity they participate in where they get recognized and receive an award.

The Horse Show

This year’s show was themed a “Classic” Show meaning we showcased it as a typical show with modifications to fit our program’s specific needs. The clients chose between demonstrating a “Dressage” pattern which includes lots of circles, straight lines, and precise movements; “Equitation” which demonstrates the riders position and effectiveness of their cues to the horse; and “Trail Class” which demonstrates taking the horse through multiple obstacles that mimic what you would come across on a trail ride. All of these demonstrations require the proper use of the riders hands, legs, voice, eyes, and position.

Hosting Saturday’s Therapeutic Riding Show were Magic 92.5 Morning Show personalities Jagger and Kristi. The real life couple are dedicated animal-lovers and have generously supported Helen Woodward Animal Center in a variety of ways, including promoting Center adoptables on Kristi’s Kritters Monday mornings, teaching Surf Dog Classes for the Center’s annual Surf Dog Surf-A-Thon, serving as hosts and judges at Center event canine costume contests and more.  They also happen to be avid horse lovers and have four of their own named Teddi, Laci, Frosty and Vegas.

Also in attendance were members of Charity Fair Horse show Kathy Kilbourne and Toni Nickell who helped President and CEO Mike Arms present awards to riders.  Since 2001, this incredible organization has made an important impact on the program’s success by donating over $125,000 towards Therapeutic Riding equine and student expenses, as well as the Center’s Pet Encounter Therapy costs.  The funds are raised entirely through the hard work and dedication of volunteers.  Other key funders of the Therapeutic Riding program are the Harriet E. Pfleger Foundation, the Dickinson Foundation, and The Stauffer Foundation.

I couldn’t be prouder of our students

“The students and horses were amazing!” Alicia Roe, Therapeutic Riding’s Manager, commented. “Best Boy, who is very new to the program, but has a history in the show world, stepped right into the action here with several riders. I couldn’t be prouder of our students and horses.”

Therapeutic Riding San Diego

The Center’s Therapeutic Riding Program benefits children and adults who have a variety of special needs from cerebral palsy, Down’s syndrome and autism to stroke recovery and learning disabilities. Students ride specially-trained horses with certified instructors in weekly sessions to develop increased balance and muscle control, improve concentration and short-term memory, and enhance their confidence and self-esteem.  Therapeutic riding can benefit individuals with a wide range of challenges, be it cognitive, physical, emotional, social, or a combination thereof.

It’s all heart out there

Alicia Roe further stated, “This show is really about more than technical achievements. The event is meaningful to our clients because they get a chance to show off and take the spotlight, often for the first time.” Arms, added, “This is simply one of my favorite events each year.  The joy and happiness you see from everyone riding, watching and participating is completely contagious. It’s all heart out there.”


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