By: Holly Brantley
OAK RIDGE, MO --A program that some people call a must for people with disabilities needs your help. Instructors with the Mississippi Valley Therapeutic Horsemanship program call the chance to saddle up "magic" for their riders. But without the help of volunteers, that magic can't happen.
The Mississippi Valley Therapeutic Horsemanship program is a non-profit agency that uses horses to help children and adults living with disabilities. Volunteers and instructors are dedicated to the cause. But, it takes a lot of people to keep it going, and right now they need more.
"They get to be tall. They get to be taller than their parents," explains Instructor, Betsy Rigdon as she talks about the benefits of the program. "They get to steer the horse."
For riders, the horses provide a boost of self-confidence. But, none of this would be possible without the volunteers. "It's amazing," said Chris Richmond, a volunteer. "It's like a totally new world to them."
Richmond started volunteering two years ago. He and others in this dedicated group keep coming back to keep the program going. But, to keep Mississippi Valley trotting forward, it needs more people to open their hearts and offer their time. "You can see the children develop," Richmond said. "You get to see them at a starting point and they grow over time. It's impressive to see."
Margie Nation has watched her daughter Becki, grow up on horse back. Becki was the program's second rider. Over the years, Margie has learned just how much volunteers bring to the Mississippi Valley program. "If you enjoy horses or you enjoy kids it's just a positive thing to watch them smiling and being happy and it's just fun...it's hot but it's fun," said Margie.
"This is an important therapy," said Rigdon. "I would invite anyone to come and observe and see what we do. It will warm your heart and you will see how it works." No horse experience is needed to volunteer. They also need help with horse care and they are searching for someone to help with administrative duties. Call (573) 243-1408 to learn more. Or visit their Open House, Sunday June 25, 2006 from 2pm-4pm.
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