Spring 2007 NARHA's STRIDES
Reprinted with permission of the article's writer, Pebbles Turbeville
Therapeutic Horsemanship -- St. Andrews Presbyterian College
Therapeutic Horsemanship was started by St. Andrews Presbyterian College students who created a small program called "Ride-Like-A-Knight" for fellow students with disabilities. The school mascot is a knight, so the program name tied into the college sports program.
As the program grew, the equestrian director, Shelby French, sought funding to expand the TH program.
A FIPSE grant (Funds for the Improvement of Post-secondary Education) enabled the college to hire NARHA Certified Master Level Instructor Lorrie Renker to design the TH curriculum and program. The exposure from receiving the grant, in turn, helped the equestrian program grow through additional student recruitment options as well as publicity from the grant.
At first, TH and the college equestrian program classes took place at two separately leased locations. A grant from the Singletary Foundation enabled the college to purchase property and build the Singletary Therapeutic Horsemanship Center. This was the start of an expansion plan that brought all the equine programs to one site.
Today, faculty staff, horses, and joint student recruitment efforts can be shared between the two programs. Facility, equipment, and maintenance are conducted by one maintenance crew, and marketing efforts can be shared through publication of ads, articles, etc.
The students enrolled in the therapeutic horsemanship program have access to a variety of horses and are able to take riding lessons from top instructors in three disciplines. They can participate in competition in three disciplines, enroll in college courses originally designed for the equestrian program, and take equestrian workshops and clinics hosted by the equestrian program.
The students who are enrolled in the equestrian studies program can volunteer with the Ride-Like-A-Knight program and take part in its special events. They can learn more about disabilities, the benefits of therapeutic riding and explore a future career by enrolling in TH college courses.
Enrollment in the equestrian programs gives back to the community through free therapeutic horsemanship lessons offered to the coal schools and individual participants. In turn, St. Andrews enjoys a positive image in the community.
Would the overall equestrian program at St. Andrews be as strong today without the input from TH? Probably not. Both lend quality, uniqueness and strengths to each other. Communication, teamwork and respect for both programs from the staff and faculty are the keys to a beneficial partnership.