A cure for the winter blues

Published 9:20 am Monday, January 19, 2009

By Staff
With the recent snow storms most of us have been cooped up inside our homes and the walls are closing in. The Therapeutic Equestrian Center (TEC) can cure those winter blues!
TEC exists to enhance the lives of people with special needs through engaging them in horse-related activities.
TEC's therapeutic riding program helps people from children to seniors find hope and reach potentials they never thought possible.
As one student said about herself, "I can't believe how amazing I am!"
Participants benefit in a wide variety of ways. Horses are motivating and fun! Therapeutic riding is a form of physical exercise.
Physical therapists state that the horse's movement and gait mirrors people walking with benefits that can't be replicated in a clinic.
Horses sense our emotions, allowing a special connection between them and their rider.
That connection may motivate a rider to utter their first words and empower them for the first time in their lives to be in control of a situation.
Educators see improvements as TEC provides opportunities to transfer skills acquired in school to another setting.
TEC is presently accepting applications for its six-week winter riding session.
Group or semi-private lessons are held once a week. Each session is geared to meet the needs of individual riders.
Participants are given instruction in grooming and tacking their horse in addition to riding.
Rider applications are available through the Web site at www.tecfarm.org or by calling (269) 429-0671.
Part of the application process does require a physical. There is a fee for lessons with scholarships available to those with proof of financial need. Rider applications are due by Feb. 14. Lessons begin the week of Feb. 23.
Volunteers are also needed for the therapeutic riding lessons.
"It's amazing to watch a student be helped onto a horse from a wheelchair, to sit up, steer, and smile from above the world they usually look up at. To watch a person who will never drive a car develop the confidence to control the horse is priceless. The smiles and pleasures these students share with me are worth more than gold," said Vicki O'Neil a TEC volunteer.
Volunteers assist with lessons as sidewalkers and horse leaders.
Other volunteers are needed to care for TEC's five horses and to exercise them.
To help with lessons volunteers must attend one indoor and one outdoor session.
Feb. 1: Indoor training at 3 at the Berrien Springs Community Library, 215 W. Union St., Berrien Springs
Feb. 5: 6 at TEC in the indoor arena located at Stockbridge Equestrian Center 615 N. M-140, Watervliet.
Feb. 12 – Indoor training at 6 at the Berrien Springs Community Library, 215 W. Union St., Berrien Springs
Feb. 15: 3:00 at TEC in the indoor arena located at Stockbridge Equestrian Center, 615 N. M-140, Watervliet.