Letters

Letters 8-18-2014

The Climate Clarified

Climate change isn’t an easy subject. A class I’m taking compared it to medicine in a way that was helpful for me: Climate scientists are like planetary physicians. Our understanding of medicine is incomplete, but what we know is useful...

Beware Non-Locally Grown

The article “Farm Fresh?” couldn’t be any more true than exactly stated. As an avid shopper at the local farm markets I want to know “exactly” what I am buying, from GMO free to organic or not organic, sprayed or not sprayed and with what...

Media Bias Must End

I wish to thank Joel Weberman for his letter “Seeking Balanced Israel Coverage.” The pro-Palestinian bias includes TV news coverage...

Proud of My President

The world is a mess. According to many conservative voices, it would not be in such a mess if Obama was not the president. I am finally understanding that the problem with our president is that he is too thoughtful, too rational, too realistic, too inclined to see things differently and change his mind, too compassionate to be the leader of a free world...

Home · Articles · News · Features · Catch a Reinbow
. . . .

Catch a Reinbow

Danielle Horvath - August 10th, 2006
The first time Rorie Asplet went horseback riding, he screamed from the parking lot to the doors of the arena. Rorie has cerebral palsy and has spent his life in a wheelchair and had a fear of animals, especially large ones, because he had always come face-to-face with them.
It took a few more attempts before Rorie began feeling the positive effects riding had on his muscles, while also developing a friendship with both the horse and its owner. Rorie, now 21, is now going on his seventh year participating in the Catch A Reinbow therapeutic horseback riding group and his parents are very glad they made that first trip.
“He used to be in pain, his legs are better, he’s grown, he sits up taller,” explained his dad Reggie. “After a night of riding, his legs will be shaking afterwards because it uses different muscles than when he’s in the chair. It stimulates parts of his body that don’t get it any other way, even though he works out at a fitness center four days a week. He’s also become good friends with his horse, which was an added bonus.”

WHAT IT’S LIKE TO WALK
A horse’s walk or gait imitates that of humans, and horses will change their gait to accommodate the rider. For someone in a wheelchair, this may be the closest they’ll ever come to feeling what it’s like to walk. Riding a horse provides a passive stretch for tight muscles, stimulates internal organs and circulation and improves the body’s range of motion.
Studies show riders improve not only physically, but psychologically as well through the connection made between the horse and rider. Often riding increases a handicapped person’s self confidence, responsibility and pride as well as instilling a sense of accomplishment.
Each rider has two people walking on either side of the horse at all times, and the horse is usually led by its owner. Volunteers trailer and transport their horses to the sessions and many have been involved in the program for years.
“It’s really a lot of fun,” said John Yonkers, who has been transporting his two horses from Manistee for the past five years. “My horses enjoy the kids riding them, the whole experience calms them down and the people I’ve met have been awesome. Everyone gets a lot of enjoyment out of this.”
The all-volunteer program serving Antrim, Benzie, Kalkaska, Leelanau and Grand Traverse counties relies on a small group of dedicated, dependable and caring adults and teens. Led by a certified instructor, the program works with specially-selected horses that are gentle, docile, used to being around people and noises, and are not too big or tall. The program has been held at different locations over the past nine years, including indoor arenas donated by horse owners.

SAFE ENVIRONMENT
“I think it’s a great program, and very important to these kids and the volunteers,” said Diane Kaser, owner of Spring Moon Equestrian Center outside of Beulah. Kaser donates the use of her indoor arena for the six week sessions. The indoor settings provide a less distracting and safer environment, and a more level surface for both horses and volunteers to walk on. “Safety is first, always,” explained instructor Jody Bambas, “and having fun is second.”
Bambas led the group of six riders in an hour-long session that included safety awareness, directing the horse, and learning to use proper commands and gestures. All riders are required to wear helmets and meet medical approval before riding. All volunteers are screened and trained to serve in a variety of roles.
Bambas is currently the only instructor in the area and the program is always looking for more. A fee for the participants is nominal and scholarships may be available. The program survives on networking and word of mouth and financial donations from individuals and organizations.
Anyone interested in finding out more about the Catch A Reinbow program should contact Patty Roth, 4-H Youth Programs, MSU-Extension, Benzie County, (231) 882-0025.


 
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