Riding therapy program helps kids thrive

New therapeutic riding program at Selkirk Saddle Club delivers health benefits for kids on horseback

Instructor Tanya Secord and mom Kaliegh Thomson helps daughter and student Neava feed a carrot to Cricket

Instructor Tanya Secord and mom Kaliegh Thomson helps daughter and student Neava feed a carrot to Cricket

A new therapeutic riding system offered at the Selkirk Saddle Club grounds by instructor Tanya Secord helps young riders thrive and overcome mental and physical barriers.

Secord recently completed her training in the Okanagan, meaning she’s a certified assistant instructor with the Canadian Therapeutic Riding Association.

It enables her to do one-on-one lessons with students, many of whom face physical or mental challenges.

Last week, I visited the Selkirk Saddle Club’s new covered riding area to observe a lesson.

The two students, Neava and Zayden, mounted up and did some natural stretching exercises on the horses. They practiced coordination drills with balls, then did riding laps around the enclosure.

The practiced drills, like communicating with the horse through commands, and tossing bean bags into targets.

Secord explained the curriculum is designed to develop motor skills and cognitive abilities. For example, riding the horse develops hip strength, and the bean bag exercises help with core strength.

“It has a huge on their muscular development,” Secord said.

Hand-eye coordination and concentration are also improved.

Communicating with the horse by issuing commands helps build communication skills.

And it’s fun, Secord said.

“It’s about giving them a sport they can do without judgement,” she said. “And it’s just fun interaction with other people.”

Lessons are available via Tanya Secord at the Selkirk Saddle Club. Some funding assistance is available through Community Connections Revelstoke for those who qualify.