I only knew half the story when I learned that New Beginnings Therapeutic Riding helps people with various disabilities ride horses. I simply was not aware of all the benefits of therapeutic riding. New Beginnings’ mission statement says it plainly: “NBTR serves those with behavioral, emotional, physical and mental disabilities through the power of horses.” New Beginnings Therapeutic Riding has been a faithful BlueCotton customer since 2005. We have had the privilege of printing t-shirts for the annual Horse Show and Ride-A-Thon events, as well as individual orders for staff and volunteers.
When BlueCotton began following New Beginnings on Facebook, I began to understand that their mission goes well beyond “learning to ride.”
When I saw the video below, I realized that New Beginnings is bigger than their mission statement.
I began to understand all the ways that therapeutic riding enhances self esteem, builds trust and loyalty, enhances communication and social skills, all inside of great outdoor exercise. Wikipedia tells us:
A student who interacts with his or her horse may extend this interaction to others and form meaningful relationships with people. Building a relationship with an animal is very rewarding in many respects; for a person with an emotional, social or psychological disability, the trust and loyalty of an animal demonstrates to the student how important he or she is; they may then apply this newly-acquired self-esteem to personal relationships. A horse may also help a person feel in control of his or her situation, since in dealing with horses there is a direct relationship between action and reaction. To learn how to care for (and ride) a horse, a student must also be able to communicate effectively with both horse and instructor. In this way riding is a social activity, but may be less daunting to those uncomfortable in social situations. Riding a horse is also a unique experience, and it helps empower a person, enabling them to connect with others on a personal level. The sometimes-unpredictable nature of animals and situations also creates a real-life environment in which a student can confront his or her fears, and adjust to situations beyond their control. Children with disabilities love having a quiet, peaceful environment, as do horses, so they may teach each other many things.
We sat down with Jill Steffey, one of NBTR’s Board Members to get an idea of her typical day, and what qualities she looks for in a volunteer.
1. Can you tell us about your typical day at New Beginnings?
I am a teacher with Warren County Day Treatment so my days are just a little different than others. A typical day with my students goes like this:
Ten to fifteen kids arrive at New Beginnings. Half of them begin working on grooming and preparing to ride. This group learns how to groom every part of the horse, saddle and put the bridle on. They go into the ring and learn how to follow directions and manage their horse. This is a rewarding challenge for my students.
The other half begins working on farm work including washing out feed buckets and water troughs, building or repairing fences, and cleaning the barn. This group learns how to follow directions from other adults. They are taught how to work together and build social skills.
These groups continue their assignments until lunch. After lunch, the groups switch responsibilities and work until we get on the bus to come back to school.
2. Do you have a favorite horse among New Beginnings ten program horses? Tell us about him/her.
I really enjoy Copper because of his antics and silliness. I gravitate towards the atypical so he and I get along really well. He likes to take my hat off if I get to close to him. He also likes to nip at me. He doesn’t hurt me. He is just playing.
3. What qualities do you look for in volunteers?
We look for volunteers who are prompt and trustworthy. They arrive when they say they are going to be there and stay as long as needed. I enjoy volunteers do whatever is asked of them while they are there. Our volunteers are what makes this program work so we need people who are dedicated and willing to help in whatever way necessary.
Tell us about your favorite t-shirt…
My favorite shirt is my long-sleeved dark blue shirt with the white New Beginnings logo on the front left corner. I wear it all the time because is it simple and plain for me. That’s the way I like things.
If New Beginnings acquired a free 30 second advertisement during the Super Bowl – what would you air to the public?
I would show a slide show of pictures of a rider progressing from their wheel chair to riding a horse on their own while explaining how much these horses and instructors help people with any kind of disability heal physically, emotionally, and mentally.
If you would like to learn more about New Beginnings Therapeutic Riding you may find them on Facebook or at http://www.nbtr-bg.org/