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Guest blog written by Lucy Charvat, HETRA Grant Manager and Therapeutic Riding Instructor
We (Heartland Equine Therapeutic Riding Academy) are excited to announce that we have officially relaunched our Adaptive Carriage Driving program! This program was on hiatus as we took the time to locate and train a new carriage driving horse. We feel so fortunate that we were able to welcome and train HETRA Equine Partner, Frank, to serve our carriage driving participants. He is absolutely loving his new job!
Our Adaptive Carriage Driving program offers the opportunity for participants who are unable to ride because of limitations due to weight, balance, or other reasons to experience the benefits of partnering with horses. Through this program, participants experience benefits such as improved focus and attention, increased strength and postural control, and learning to work on a team. All of our Adaptive Carriage Driving sessions are facilitated by our Certified Therapeutic Carriage Driving Instructor, Tom Cramer.
Photo of HETRA participant, Kay, and HETRA equine partner, Frank, during a driving session
HETRA carriage driving horse, Frank, is an 11 year old haflinger who came to us from an Amish farm in Iowa. Frank was purchased by a HETRA volunteer who worked alongside our Equine Operations Manager to ensure she could find a horse who would be a good fit for our Adaptive Carriage Driving program. Frank’s easy-going and happy personality is the perfect fit to work with participants with a variety of diagnoses.
A few weeks ago, we welcomed our first carriage driving participant of the year, Kay. Kay is a Veteran who had been participating in our ground programming for several weeks, and was excited to be able to enroll in our Adaptive Carriage Driving Program. Kay says that participating in the program is “exciting! Carriage driving is a way to communicate with the horse one-on-one. It’s empowerment and gives you a feeling of calmness and relaxation. Frank is a mild-mannered horse and I just love him.”
It is thanks to our community of supporters that we were able to relaunch our Adaptive Carriage Driving Program in order to provide its incredible benefits to participants like Kay. Reaching this milestone will allow even more families of individuals with disabilities to receive our unique services in partnership with horses.