This will be the center’s second year holding the camp which will be used as a fundraiser for the therapeutic programs. The center will hold a Christmas riding camp to raise money for their organization.
Although the center focuses on therapeutic riding, Denise Wright, program coordinator, said the camp is for riders without disabilities.
Wright said the fundraiser allows them to continue offering therapeutic lessons at a reduced rate and offer scholarships to riders who may not otherwise be able to afford it. Wright said she would like to raise enough money with the Christmas camp to sponsor one therapeutic rider, which is about $600.
“We depend on ... community donations, grants, that kind of stuff,” Wright said, commenting that the camp was a fast, fun way to raise money. Wright said the camp includes “teaching them basic horse skills ... giving them a chance to be immersed in the barn and taking care of horses, learning to ride, that kind of thing.” The camp also includes group activities such as arts and crafts.
Camp classes are divided by skill set and kept small to give students more one-on-one attention. Campers will use the center’s horses, which have been trained to work as therapeutic horses and are extra gentle.
Wright said the camp also serves as a break and change of routine for the horses, because they get to do more riding rather than therapeutic exercises.
The camp takes place in the center’s enclosed arena sheltering students from the weather. When it gets too cold, Wright said the students practice grooming, vaulting and memorizing the parts of the equipment in the center’s heated classroom.
The three-day Christmas Camp costs $150 dollars and runs Dec. 28-30. Registration for the camp ends Dec. 20, and forms are available at www.tristatereinbowriders.com by clicking on the “Camps” tab.
Tri-State Therapeutic Riding Center is the only center in Cleveland and Chattanooga that is certified by the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association.
“Therapeutic Riding is ... recreational riding for individuals with physical, mental and emotional disabilities,” Wright said.
Each instructor at the center has a different focus area. Wright focuses on the riders who can ride independently or are making the transition into independent riding. Interacting with the riders and the volunteers has become Wright’s favorite thing about her job.
“(It’s ) never a dull moment, ever. I love teaching and I love seeing how much they’ve grown,” Wright said.
The youngest students at the center are just 2 years old. She said at this age the class is more about the benefits of riding rather than focusing on developing riding skills. Their class consists of more activities such as “passing rings, learning colors, counting,” etc. Wright said they will also learn how to command the horse with their voices.
By the time a rider reaches the independent class, they are grooming and controlling the horse.
“They barely have any control over their lives, but they get to ... control a thousand pound animal,” Wright said. “And that’s so empowering to some of these riders.”
Wright said she also incorporates a lot of social interaction into her classes to help the riders’ social skills.
Recently the center has begun a program for at-risk students, teaching character traits and communication skills through horses. Wright said she is excited about the program getting started.