In April of 2018, our therapy horse “Bobby” received the best birthday present ever...a $5000 Platinum-level “Grand Prix” sponsorship from the Gainey Foundation! Established in memory of Cathy and Laura Gainey, the Gainey Foundation is committed to supporting charitable organizations that offer environmental and arts education programs for youth*. PARD thought it was only fitting to have Mr Bob Gainey sponsor a horse named Bobby! And now thanks to the generous sponsorship of the Gainey Foundation, Bobby (the horse, of course) has his board, hay, feed, nutritional supplements, vet visits, farrier visits, and so much more covered for one year. Bobby was 16 years old when he joined the program in 2015. He’s the smallest of the five horses we currently have, making him an ideal fit for our young riders. He has won the hearts of many of our volunteers with his kind disposition and willingness to please. He has many good years to offer PARD as a therapy horse.
At PARD our riders get onto the the horse by using either the traditional block mount or a ramp mount. The block mount (pictured above) is similar to the mounting blocks that you would see at other barns; whether they be a plastic portable one or a more fixed structure. PARD's block mount is a permanent structure in the designated 'mounting area' that provides enough room for the rider and instructor to be on the mount at the same time. This provides the instructor the ability to assist the rider physically if needed and/or simply be there to encourage proper technique.
For riders with assistive devices such as walkers and wheelchairs, the ramp mount system allows the rider to utilize the device to safely enter the mount area and move up the ramps. The ramp mount makes it easier for riders with mobility issues to mount. It does this in two ways. The first being that it puts the rider higher than the horse so when he/she moves their leg over the horse to mount it requires less flexibility through the hip and pelvic area. The second way is called a crest mount. This mount is when the rider stands with his/her back toward the horse at the saddle and with assistance from the instructor and volunteers sits on the saddle. The rider is guided to sit forward while his/her legs are raised together up and over the horses neck. The riders legs are then guided down each side of the horse into proper position. Both of these methods provide a safer and more comfortable mount for riders with mobility and flexibility concerns.
The ramp mount can be complex and very demanding for our volunteers and horses. The horse is led into a chute created by a ramped platform on either side. The horse is required to remain standing still and patiently until the rider is mounted, at which time the horse, rider, volunteers and instructor move down the ramp and out of the mounting area in a synchronous fashion.
This mounting process is one of the reasons it takes a special horse to be a therapy horse. Our amazing PARD boys have the skill, patience and forgiveness to pull this off several times each lesson night, twice a week. It's just one of the many, MANY reasons we love them.
In 2018 PARD was granted $1165 from Peterborough Foundation to make improvements to the existing Ramp Mount. With the money we were able to replace the old sheets of plywood, paint them with a textured paint (for safety), and do repairs to the toe-rail at the edge of the ramp. The ramps look so much cleaner and brighter...and ready for the 2019 season!
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