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Equine Program Provides Many Benefits to Exceptional Equestrians
Front Range Exceptional Equestrians is hosting a fundraising event with Dr. Temple Grandin. Dr. Grandin will present a lecture and sign books on Tuesday, May 10, 6 p.m., at the Christ United Methodist Church, 301 East Drake Road. There is no charge for admission and no tickets needed. Donations will be accepted at the door. Books will be available for purchase at the event, including Dr. Grandin’s newest book “Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior.” All proceeds benefit Front Range Exceptional Equestrians.
In 1983, a program called “Let’s Ride” started offering therapeutic horseback riding to children and adults with developmental and chronic disabilities. More than 20 years later, that program, renamed Front Range Exceptional Equestrians (FREE) in 1987, has brought smiles to the faces of hundreds of riders. FREE continues to expand its services, now planning to offer a course through Colorado State University to educate students interested in becoming therapeutic riding instructors.
FREE offers riding sessions from April through October at the Adams-Atkinson Arena at CSU’s Foothills Campus and at Legacy Stables. More than 30 CSU students volunteer with the program, including students in equine sciences, animal sciences, physical therapy, pre-veterinary medicine and pre-med. Students and other volunteers go through FREE training and then volunteer one hour a week to assist during riding sessions. This fall, FREE, in cooperation with the College of Agricultural Sciences and the Equine Sciences Department, will offer an “Introduction to Equine Assisted Activities."
Each year, FREE serves approximately 60 riders. Fifty percent of their clients have a mental disability or cognitive delay. More than half of their clients are over the age of 18, ranging in age from 3 to more than 65 years old. Classes are offered two days a week at the Adams-Atkinson Arena and one day a week at Legacy stables. The program owns two horses, has three CSU horses on loan, and the remainder of its horses are volunteers' horses.
Riding therapy offers many benefits for its participants including improved muscle strength, postural alignment, balance, coordination, motor planning, perceptual awareness, speech, socialization, self esteem and more. Therapeutic riding offers three different uses including sport, education and medicine.
FREE has numerous volunteer opportunities for faculty, staff and students interested in becoming involved with the program. The next volunteer training is on Tuesday, May 17, 5-7 p.m., at the Adams-Atkinson Arena with the next riding session beginning on May 19. Sessions run six to eight weeks, one hour a week. FREE is particularly in need of volunteers for the summer session as many student volunteers leave Fort Collins for the summer. FREE also can use financial donations for horse care, scholarship funding, arena rental fees and program maintenance. FREE also takes used tack in good condition, and will adopt gentle horses into the program.
If you are interested in volunteering or donating, visit FREE at their web site for more information: www.ridewithfree.org , or call (970) 221-0646.