Raising Awareness for Therapeutic Horse Riding - WBAY

Raising Awareness for Therapeutic Horse Riding

De Pere -

Some young equestrians will show off their skills at a horse show Saturday. 

The horse riding isn't just for fun.

It's used as a therapy for children with special needs.

Six-year-old Don Gillette has been coming to Exceptional Equestrians in De Pere for three years.

His mom brought him in for therapy after noticing some developmental delays.

"It's been great. Every year I see more and more improvement. He's talking more and more to people. He's very interactive," explained Sarah Gillette.

Don loves working with his two favorite horses.

"Josh and Gomar," he said.

"They kind of warm up and walk around and then they work on some balancing, following directions. A lot of times there's a treasure hunt and he has to read. It's coordination. Kind of multi-tasking." added Sarah.

The therapists at Exception Equestrians say riding the horse impacts different sensory systems in the body.

"So, for instance talking about a child who has a motor disorder like cerebral palsy and has a lot of tightness and stiffness in their body, the movement of the horse helps us gain mobility in lower extremities," explained executive director and licensed therapist Lisa Kafka. 

Saturday many of the children who use the facility, like Don, will showcase their skills at a horse show, completing drills like riding while holding an egg on a spoon.

"I run into people still who aren't familiar with us. We've been here over 15 years. Using the horse as a therapeutic tool is a fairly uncommon thing. It's a great opportunity firsthand to see what it does for children," said Kafka.

The event is also a fundraiser to help keep costs at a minimum for the 100 families who use the services each year.

The horse show runs from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Exceptional Equestrians in De Pere. It features games, food and raffles.



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