- A group of students from Honesdale High School were able to channel their inner cowboy or cowgirl on Thursday.
The Honesdale High School Adapted Physical Education, Therapeutic Riding Group got the chance to work with a group of lovable therapy horses and their peers.
Adapted Physical Education Instructor Kim Lawson said the idea for the program came from a discussion with the director of Fair Hill Farm Riding Academy (FHFRA), Art Goldberg, after her daughter's riding lesson.
"They were already doing therapy riding," she said. "We thought it would be a great idea to get the students involved."
Forty-five children later, the program is one the most popular offered at the school. "I have a waiting list for kids wanting to participate," she said.
The students in the program are an even mix of student helpers and adapted physical education students. The program "gives the kids a chance to learn from each other."
The student helpers prepare for the two field trip days by going through training sessions at the farm. The helpers learn skills like how to be a lead walker and side walker and how to groom the horses. The lead walker is responsible for walking the horse on a lead while an adapted physical education student rides the horses. A side walker walks calmly next to the horse to help the rider keep their balance.
The student helpers are chosen to participate in the program based on their future educational interests. Lawson said the students have goals of going into special education, education, physical therapy, veterinary science or even engineering.
The program is also a senior project for the helpers, who will fill the graduation requirement after completing the program.
The students in the adapted psychical education program participate in a gym class that is modified to fit their needs. The class "is more relaxed and loosely structured" when compared to a standard gym class to encompass children with a number of varying abilities.
For the very vocal Lindsay Nordenhold, the therapy trips have helped her in all aspects of her life.
Nordenhold is a regular rider at Fair Hill Farm and is confined to a wheelchair. Being able to interact with the horses has increased her confidence in areas of her life that extend far beyond the stables.
Page 2 of 2 - Riding "has given me a sense of confidence," she beamed. "I've gained so much confidence to be able to speak to groups of people, or even just one person."
Nordenhold gets on the horse with the help of a lift and the teamwork of student helpers. Once on the horse, she is able to take a relaxing stroll.
Brittany Loscig says she enjoys the trip because she "likes to be around animals." Loscig, who has autism and ADHD, said another benefit of the day is "experiencing other people and how they cope with what I have."
Savannah Iavarone, with the inspiration of her student helper Gavin Canfield, rode a horse for the first time just last week. "I got on the horse for the first time," she said. "Gavin was my inspiration."
Fair Hill Farm Riding Academy has North American Riding for the Handicapped Association (NARHA) certified instructors available. Ben Goldberg works in both New York and Pennsylvania with clients affected by a variety of conditions.
"It is a great opportunity to bring the community together," he said. "It's great to see the kids interacting with their peers."
Fair Hill Farm Riding Academy is located on 1046 Cochecton Turnpike, Rt. 371 in Tyler Hill. For information on the types of instruction available, call 224-0052 or email email@example.com.
Lawson would like to thank the following sponsors for making the field trip happen: Bruce W. Lawson, Inc., the family of Terry Hunter, Enviroventures, Jennz Cafe, the family of Clive Gustin, the Damascus United Methodist Church Soup for the Soul project and Mrs. Stacy Stone of Honesdale High School.