By Dr. Melody Campbell March 2021
Take a moment to dream about something you never thought you could do. Bungee jumping, skydiving, mountain climbing, heliskiing are a few of the activities that only a few of us ever get to experience. Now, picture yourself with the challenges associated with physical or mental special needs. With these challenges in mind notice how narrow and limited the dreaming and opportunities become. What if we could open a door of access to an activity that not only provides fun and social interaction, but actually benefits you physically and emotionally? That door is PARD Therapeutic Riding!
We know that horses are great to be around. They can sense and connect with our emotions. They can show us things about ourselves, like courage and determination. There are also therapeutic physical benefits when you are riding a horse. The way horses walk directly affects the rider’s pelvic area, as explained below, creating the movements that humans use to walk.
HORSE AND HUMAN MOVEMENT
The movements of a walking horse facilitate almost identical patterns of movements in the human trunk and pelvis, while the rider is sitting astride the horse.
HOW THE HORSE WALKING AFFECTS THE HUMAN BODY WHILE ON A HORSE
While walking, the horses’ pelvis moves in an almost identical manner to the riders’ pelvis which is being passively moved by the horse.
This makes the horse an invaluable tool in the overall mobility of the pelvis and trunk of the rider.
The horses’ pelvis and the riders’ pelvis are at 90-degree angles to each other; therefore, the horses’ lateral flexion produces rider rotation and the horses’ rotation produces rider lateral flexion.
The three planes of movement occurring in the pelvis of the rider are anterior-posterior tilt, and lateral tilt to the pelvis, with weight shifting from one side to the other side. This weight shifting movement causes a continuing lengthening of the trunk on one side and shortening on the other with each stride the horse takes.
Now, you are probably wondering how you would ever be able to get on top of a horse! Well, we have the physical means to facilitate getting on a horse. At PARD we have you covered! We have a long ramp with a space in the middle that sort of looks like where you might put something like a boat or a horse. The ramp is 24 feet long so the incline is gradual up to the height of the back of a horse. If our rider is in a wheelchair, or has limited mobility, it becomes much easier to mount a horse. Our special therapy horses are very quiet and gentle so they are happy to stand still while we assist the rider to sit in the saddle. PARD also has adaptive equipment we use in order to assist our riders. We also have what are called ‘mounting blocks’ which look like a set of stairs that can be climbed up in order to mount the horse. With many volunteers available there is always assistance to ensure that everyone, rider and horse, are safe at all times.
Each rider is assessed by a physiotherapist and the certified instructors so that there is a plan in place for each rider based on their abilities and goals prior to beginning their riding. Volunteers are filled in on what is needed for each rider, and sometimes the need is even singing a song while the rider is in their lesson! Riders are also matched to horses as tiny Bobby can only have small people and someone like big Frank can accommodate bigger people. The horse’s gait, or way of walking, is also a consideration. Some horses take long strides (steps) and some take shorter or quicker strides. Much work goes into planning each lesson with great volunteers and dedicated Board Members and Instructors participating. Have I mentioned fun? We all have lots of smiles and laughter and encouragement in the lessons and in our interactions with the riders and their caregivers. Being outside and around our horses is an added bonus!!
By Dr. Melody Campbell February 2021
Have you ever wondered why we love the PARD boys so much? We even love Doc despite the number of ruined blankets that we have to purchase for Stormy over the winter! The human-horse bond has a very long and varied history. Horses have served humanity as a means of transportation during war and peace times. They have partnered with humans to compete in a variety of disciplines, like endurance, stadium jumping, dressage and more. And now, they are helping people heal from trauma, assisting children with learning, and supplying many therapeutic benefits for people of all ages.
Did you know that people who love horses are called ‘hippophiles’? Have you ever thought about the reasons why we love horses? We can come up with some of the reasons why everyone at PARD loves horses.
Horses have large hearts and they can provide a calming, peaceful presence just by being there for us.
There is a therapeutic benefit when you are around horses, either on the ground or in the saddle. They can reduce a person’s blood pressure and heart rate which can calm physical symptoms such as anxiety and stress. When you are in the saddle the motion of the horse walking mimics the way our muscles work when we walk on the ground. The PARD boys are experts at providing therapeutic benefits to our riders!
Horses are beautiful and majestic whether they are standing still or moving.
Our Pard boys are sensitive and kind. They are also patient and gentle. Horses are naturally empathetic. Because they are a prey animal and typically live in groups or herds, they instantly pick up on emotions within the group so they can react appropriately to avoid being attacked by predators. This means they also know exactly how we are feeling. Can you imagine how powerful that is within the human-horse bond? No wonder we love them!
Horses teach us how to ride and they show us their goodness and inspire the best in the people who they share their lives with. Take a moment to think about your last contact with a horse and how that contact made you feel. Hold onto that feeling until we can all be together again.
Each of our PARD horses has a unique personality, just like people! Doc likes to shred Stormy’s blankets and Bobby loves to have the door of his stall decorated for special holidays. When they line up at the fence to be tacked up, Frank has to be the first one in the line. Stormy obviously likes to have his blankets removed during the winter as he does not object when Doc starts to pull them off. What a pair!! NuBuck is sturdy and calm and willing to do whatever is asked of him. He never talks back!
Some people have difficulty saying why they love horses and will tell you that horses are just in their blood!!
On Valentine’s Day we recognize the people in our lives that we love. Take a few moments on Valentine’s Day and think about Doc, Stormy, Frank, Bobby and NuBuck. Send them your love and good wishes for all that they do for us!
By Dr. Melody Campbell January 30, 2021
Brrrrrr! It is cold outside right now but we have the horses well protected! They are all outside during the day, eating of course. Horses are designed to eat small amounts of grass or hay all day long. This is called ‘trickle feeding’. Bobby, our smallest boy, has a stall in the barn where he stays all night. Doc, NuBuck, Stormy, and Frank are outside all night.
Did you know that our horses have clothes? When they are outside all the time without clothes on, some horses can grow a very thick coat of hair that helps protect them in the winter months. Some horse breeds don’t grow very thick coats. The Thoroughbred and the Arabian (Bobby) come to mind. In order to protect horses in the cold, and even rain, there are a variety of blankets (called “rugs” in Britain) and sheets that can be layered one on top of another depending on the weather. It can be a challenge to figure out which blankets and sheets to put on a horse each day as the weather can be so changeable!
Just like a pair of tights, the strength of a horse blanket can be determined by its ‘denier’. This term applies to the outer shell of a blanket that is worn outside in the open air. It is a measure of the thickness of the individual thread used in the yarn weave. The higher the denier number the stronger and thicker the blanket. Some horses can be ‘blanket wreckers’ or a ‘rug Houdini’ in that they don’t tolerate having a blanket on and so they are very skillful at damaging or removing their blankets. At PARD we have a different problem, with Doc destroying any blanket that Stormy is wearing. He pulls the blanket off and shreds it!! As you can imagine, horse blankets can be fairly expensive, particularly when you have someone like Doc in the herd. We have not figured out why he does this, and he isn’t talking.
Lighter weight blankets or sheets can be used in the stable. Rain sheets often serve as the outer layer of blankets when there is wet weather. This keeps the blankets underneath dry and warm. That means that each horse needs to have blankets or sheets for every type of weather, and for wet weather there is a need for more than one of each type of blanket or sheet. When blankets get soaked through, they need to be hung for a period of time to dry. This can be challenging when there is cold, wet weather as the blankets or sheets do not dry quickly in a barn or arena environment.
There are Coolers which are lightweight and made of fabrics that wick away any sweat that has developed during heavy workouts. Horses can be protected from the bugs with lightweight Fly Sheets. Lightweight sheets are also used to protect horses from the sun. Grey and white horses are particularly prone to skin damage when exposed to too much sun. This includes Bobby who looks white but is actually a grey horse. Quarter, Half or Exercise Sheets are used to keep the hindquarters of a working horse warm. They can be under the saddle at the front, or around the rider to provide some protection for them as well. Horses which are ridden in indoor arenas in the winter can be clipped to allow them to cool off more quickly after heavy workouts. Then, if they are going outside into cold or wet weather, they need suitable clothes to protect them from the elements, including Neck Blankets!
Just like in the human fashion world, there are a multitude of styles, colours, designs and bling available to adorn a horse. The PARD boys are in a country setting with weather that can range from very hot to very cold as the seasons change. Their attire is on the practical side, as they have an image to uphold! Handsome, smart, gentle, strong and patient are just a few of the requirements needed for the job they do at PARD. In their more lighthearted moments they do, however, enjoy dressing up for events like costume classes at horse shows, Santa Claus Parades, and Halloween!
After a long and disappointing 2020 season, PARD thought our riders could use a little Christmas cheer! So with the help of @MegGillisPhotography and a few amazing volunteers the boys had their first photo shoot! The results were very handsome, they may have a modelling career in store for retirement.
The Final Product...
After the last minute cancellation of the 2020 Charity Games Show, I must admit I was feeling a little disappointed, but my spirits were quickly lifted as countless emails rolled in as riders, like you, donated their entry fees back to the organization. I’m grateful for the love and support for what we do here at PARD.
So it warms my heart to send you this thank you letter and share with you a few things about PARD. PARD was founded in the 70’s as a way to offer the therapeutic benefits of horseback riding to people with disabilities who otherwise couldn’t access typical riding programs. PARD was incorporated as a registered charity in 1998 and continues to offer high quality horseback riding lessons to individuals in the Peterborough area regardless of their age, ability, or financial means.
What makes PARD such a unique charity is that ALL of the volunteers are, well, volunteers. There isn’t one paid staff member, so when you donate you can be assured that 100% of your donation is going back into the program and care of the horses. Even our qualified Instructors who give up hundreds of hours to become certified through CanTRA (the Canadian Therapeutic Riding Association) do it for their love of the program and the great need it fills in the community.
So, thank you for being a part of this great community and please keep in touch through the facebook page and website. As winter arrives, it will no doubt bring along a very different holiday season. May you find joy in whatever the holidays are this year and spread cheer where you can, because we all need a little extra right now!
PARD Therapeutic Riding
NEIGH! The horses miss you! They really want you to come back but they know it’s not the safest option right now. That is why the Board of Directors had to make the unfortunate decision to cancel the 2020 Riding season. Doc, Stormy, NuBack, Frank and Bobby will be very disappointed, just like our riders and volunteers are. Things have been looking up lately, but we care about our riders, caregivers, and volunteers too much to take any risks. Following local and provincial health guidelines, and given the nature of our program cancelling the season was the only option. Any rider who had a spot in the 2020 season will retain their spot for the 2021 season. And we hope all of our wonderful volunteers will come back for the 2021 season.
A few of our families and volunteers have reached out to ask how they can help. With all of our fundraising events to date cancelled and no rider income this season PARD is very grateful to accept donations to cover the care of our five fantastic therapy horses. If you are interested in supporting PARD you can check out our website at www.pard.ca for all the ways you can get involved.
PARD instructors and volunteers continue to work behind the scenes and PARD is especially proud of the instructors adapting to online learning and attending a couple of webinars after the 2020 CanTRA Conference in Alberta was cancelled. PARD is also grateful to the small group of individuals who have worked on the building interiors this spring. PARD is supported by a strong community and we wish to thank everyone for their support.
So until we can meet again, ‘the boys’ send their love and wish you health and happiness.
PARD Therapeutic Riding
Unfortunately, the Open House/Volunteer Orientation scheduled for Sunday May 24th has been cancelled. Due to the restrictions related to COVID-19, recreational activities including horseback riding at commercial barns are on hold until further notice.
With the start of the season uncertain, your PARD Board of Directors is discussing what options may be available if/when we are able to run the program this summer. Lessons typically run June through August for approximately 10 weeks, and require the commitment of many new and returning volunteers. The safety and well-being of our riders and volunteers remains a top priority as we move forward navigating these unprecedented circumstances. We thank you for your patience and support through these tough times.
We are looking forward to seeing you at the farm again when it reopens! In the meantime, checkout our Facebook or Instagram pages for updates around the farm and with the horses.
For so many of us, life drastically changed this spring and it's been a struggle to keep up, and keep positive. However our new rescue puppy, Oscar, isn't complaining! He LOVES having us home 24/7 and quite enjoys his loooong walks each day as my husband and I take turns getting some fresh air and decompressing. I'm not sure what life will look like when we do finally emerge from our family den and slowly return to life outside the home but I'm pretty sure this puppy wont want to go back to the old normal!
For the PARD horses, we thank our lucky horseshoes for the Carruthers families who live at the farm and love them like their own. With the rest of their lives in limbo, the Carruthers have also been working away at the buildings and their progress gives me something to look forward to! While recreation programs are on hold and physical distancing the norm right now, there is much uncertainty surrounding the start of our 37th season. After learning that the 2020 CanTRA Conference was cancelled this spring, the decision was made to postpone our 2020 Charity Golf Tournament for a year. At this time, no decisions have been made about other events for the rest of the year, because like everyone else we continue to stay at home and wait...
In the meantime, checkout PARD’s Facebook and Instagram pages for pictures of the horses. The website will also be updated with any announcements regarding the season or upcoming events. We can’t wait to get back to the farm and get back to it! Wishing you all health and happiness until we can meet again...
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