Silver Lining Riding, a non-profit organization providing adaptive riding and horse-assisted therapy, celebrates 10 years of helping others heal through horses.
The organization, located at 7220 N. 185th Avenue in Waddell, offers therapeutic and educational horseback riding and horseback riding programs for people with physical, mental and cognitive disabilities. It caters to a wide range of special needs, aimed at challenging its students physically, cognitively and socially.
Founded in 2011, Silver Lining Riding is a member of the Certified Horsemanship Association (CHA) and celebrates a decade since achieving non-profit status, according to Silver Lining Riding Board Chairman Gregg Brown.
âWe work with special needs, but it’s a pretty big topic and we’re trying to be a little vague,â Brown said. âOur mission is to help people overcome the obstacles in life, whatever those obstacles, whatever.
Silver Lining typically serves 35-40 clients per week, ages 4-90. Classes can be delivered as semi-private or group lessons in six-week blocks. They are also adapted, with the help of parents and guardians, to the needs of each student.
According to Cori Morris-Sweetalla, instructor and manager of the Silver Lining Riding program, horse-assisted experiences help improve balance, strength, range of motion, coordination, motor skills, reflexes, breathing, circulation and sensory integration, to name a few.
âWe adapt it to the needs of each student. Our main goal is to make sure that all students end up riding independently, âshe explained. âWith that in mind, we know this may not always happen. We do admissions so our students know what their goals are, and from there we build. “
Because horseback riding moves the body rhythmically in much the same way as a human gait, the act can be therapeutic, said Morris-Sweetalla, who has seen students with physical disabilities improve their flexibility, balance and strength. muscular.
“When you are on horseback, after you finish your first lesson, you get off and it hurts – so it’s the same with these kids when they are out and riding them (the horses) for 30 minutes of lessons” , she said.
âWe’re looking for that automatic reaction where, when you see them start sliding to one side, their body automatically adjusts, regains their balance and readjusts themselves,â he said.
Physical benefits aside, horses have gained a reputation within the mental health community as quality companions for relieving stress, anxiety, and depression.
Equines can “mirror and respond” to human behavior, says the Anxiety Treatment Center. With similar social and responsive behaviors, it’s easy for clients to bond with the animal in the herd.
The benefits of Silver Lining can also be educational, Brown said.
âWe have a riding program where we teach the different parts of the horses, how to saddle them and how to groom them,â he explained.
Riding students work with their equine partners in the field, building a stronger relationship. Brown suggests pairing the adaptive riding lessons with the riding feature to get the maximum benefit.
Silver Lining Riding is scheduled to host its 10th Anniversary Student Showcase in February of next year. Originally scheduled for May 2021, the two-day event has been postponed due to security measures related to COVID-19.
The student recital gives the nonprofit organization’s students a chance to show off their riding skills through a series of locally judged events, Brown explained. They will also have the opportunity to qualify to compete in the Silver Lining Riding Special Olympics Track and Field Games.
âWe’re just starting to plan for it, but I don’t think it will differ from previous years,â Brown revealed. âWe have different classes and they follow a pattern. We have judges, and it’s very much like a horse competition – just for special needs. We make trophies and have a trophy party – for everyone to receive a trophy. “
Morris-Sweetalla added that the Special Olympics portion of the recital is the highlight of his career each year.
âThis is literally why I come to work every day, especially the Olympics,â she said. âWhen you see the kids, it’s really worth it to see how their faces light up. Some of these kids will never get the chance to do a horse show, and it’s their day. “
To be eligible, students must complete a full six-week session. Riding lessons suitable for groups of four are $ 35 each, or $ 55 with the riding program.
Semi-private two-rider lessons cost $ 45 each and $ 65 to include horseback riding. Private lessons are available for $ 60.
Although most of the funds go towards operating expenses, Morris-Sweetalla said Silver Lining Riding is always open to volunteers.
Brown echoed his partner’s sentiments, adding that he was eager to get Silver Lining Riding up to standard with his students in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
âI have seen real breakthroughs,â he shared. “But the great thing I take in – and I’ve heard this from a lot of parents – is that they become a normal family, at least one day a week.”
To complete a student registration form, go to silverliningriding.org/student-
registration. For more information visit
silverliningriding.org or contact Morris-Sweetalla at [email protected]