Imagine not being able to walk, talk, see or even run. These are all skills that are so easily taken for granted. Recently I was invited out to learn more about a Canadian charity who's mandate, through the joy of horseback riding, is to enhance the lives of children and adults who are limited in some or all of those skills. It is attempting to raise it's profile and like all other charities, raise funds. It goes by the acronym T.E.A.D which stands for The Equestrian Association for the Disabled. Similarly to so many Canadian charities, the recession has made it difficult to raise the required funds they need to maintain this invaluable service to those with disabilities. Not only do these four legged creatures give their disabled riders legs, confidence and joy, they also provide a physically therapeutic benefit to their jockey. Commonly referred to as Therapeutic Riding, it benefits individuals with several debilitating conditions including, Muscular Dystrophy, Cerebral Palsy, Visual Impairment, Autism, Multiple Sclerosis, Spina Bifida, Emotional Disabilities, Brain Injuries, Amputations, Learning Disabilities, Attention Deficit Disorder and many others.
The bond between humans and horses is powerful and mutually beneficial. Winston Churchill once said, "There’s something about the outside of a horse that’s good for the inside of a man”. That quote certainly applies to TEAD. The horse seems to recognize the special needs of these individual's and is particularly patient, caring and gental when riding with them. Through the relationship with their horse, these individuals, develop physically, mentally and emotionally. The horse seems to bring out the very best in riders, lift their spirits and give them confidence. It is exciting, encouraging and inspiring to see a child who could barely hold their head up for a few moments when they began the program at a Therapeutic Riding Centre, after some time actually sit up and ride for an entire lesson.
Riding seems to loosen the joints, muscles and tendons and aids these individuals in increasing strength, flexibility and perhaps most importantly their pride. As one young rider indicated to Hilary Web upon entering the riding stable after a short break outside, "When I enter the barn, I feel like a normal person." For more information on this amazing charity, go to the TEAD website at ! They are currently seeking new board directors, volunteers, trainers and financial contributions to maintain and hopefully expand on this fantastic program.