Special Equestrians trains instructors

Published 6:17 pm Sunday, January 29, 2012

Instructor Lindsey Wood demonstrates how to properly assist a handicapped person mount a horse. (Reporter photo/Christine Boatwright)


INDIAN SPRINGS – Sixteen women from across the Southeast attended a three-day workshop at Special Equestrians over the weekend.

The workshop served as a portion of the training required for trainers to become certified instructors in therapeutic horseback riding.

“There are not a lot of places that do this,” said Special Equestrians Assistant Director Dorrie Fuchs. “You kind of have to take them when you can.

Due to the scarcity of workshops available, the trainers came from North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina and across Alabama.

The workshop began on Jan. 27 and continued through Jan. 29. Lindsey Wood and Mandy Branton, both from out of state, taught the workshop. The training covered topics such as the basics of disabilities, safety issues, available tack and equipment and other necessary measures of running a therapeutic riding facility.

“Some (of the participants) are from regular stables looking to put in therapeutic programs,” Fuchs said.

Sandy Garron, for instance, is the barn manager at Lander University in Greenwood, S.C. She said she wants to become certified as a therapeutic instructor for the riding program already in place.

The workshop, along with two online tests, 25 hours of supervised, mentored instruction and riding and teaching demonstrations will complete the certification, Fuchs said.

On “certification day,” the future instructor is given two riders with disabilities. The testing instructor must teach the riders a skill in order to pass the test, Fuchs said.

“You have no idea what you’re going to get,” she said. “You plan a 20-minue lesson and teach a skill. You’re evaluated on safety, appropriateness for the riders and the sequence of how you teach the skill.”

According to Special Equestrians Director Kathleen Claybrook, the Special Equestrians chapter at Indian Springs School hosts 98 riders per week with 11 horses or ponies. The program requires about 240 volunteers to support the high amount of riders.

For more information about Special Equestrians, visit Specialequest.org.