Horseback riding for special needs children

 

By ROBERT A. DEFRANK

News-Herald Staff Writer

PIEDMONT – Angela Bartrug is introducing children with special needs to the healing power of horseback riding through Wings for a Brave Heart non-profit therapeutic riding center.

Horses have been part of Bartrug’s life since she was born. Her family has raised and trained thoroughbreds and racehorses. She decided to put her abilities to use by sharing the experience with children. “I knew I wanted to do this. That’s why I came up here and bought some land,” she said.

During the past four years she has set about landscaping, fencing, put up a barn, set up a riding ring and obstacle course and several horseback games.

She said many children quickly take to the horses and show improvement in balance. Often they make other positive adjustments. A horse can often prove to be an equalizer, allowing people who move at different speeds, to have control of their mobility, and get to their destination together as well as reach outdoor locations inaccessible to wheelchair users. Also, a barn and riding ring is a new experience for those accustomed to clinical settings, and an animal can serve as a bridge between patient and therapist. She hopes the program will be a community effort and welcomes any assistance or donations.

Many board members have a veterinary or construction background and generously volunteer their time. Bartrug hopes to include five more board members if any will volunteer.

She offers lessons to children with any type of special needs, ages two years old and older. They must provide medical records and a signed release form from their doctor. Bartrug is completing riding instructor certification and is trained in CPR and First Aid. She is registered through the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association (NARHA) and her establishment will be a NARHA center.

Cost is $300 for six weeks with lessons twice a week. She can work with any size group. If cost is an issue, she will work to adjust. “I will not refuse any child,” she said, adding that money raised goes toward maintaining the center.

The center is ready to begin lessons immediately.

The Wings for a Brave Heart Therapeutic Riding Center is located at 71955 Horsetail Lane, Piedmont. Call 740-758-5476 for more information, to donate or volunteer, visit www.horsebackriding.com.

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