Demonstartion updatedHub Staff

It was a chance to see what's at the end the lane as PRANCE, a non-profit therapeutic horseback riding organization on Highway 21 between Port Elgin and Southampton, hosted their first Open House and Fish Fry on Saturday, September 12.

Operations Manager and Volunteer Coordinator for PRANCE (Pegasus Riding Association Nurturing Challenged Equestrians), Ann Veyvara-Divinski said that the decision was made to put on a fundraiser but it also gave people a chance see their facility in the hopes that they would keep PRANCE in mind when making a donation later in the year or deciding where to dedicate their volunteer hours.

“Everybody looks at the end of the lane and wonders what is that building down there ... People are very surprised because they don't realize how big it is, what is here and what we've been doing for so many years.”

PRANCE is an accredited therapeutic equestrian centre through CanTRA, the Canadian Therapeutic Riding Association and has been in operation for over 20 years. It services individuals from all around Bruce and Grey counties through their therapeutic riding sessions. “Our riders are those with physical, intellectual and emotional disabilities and they're of all ages,” said Veyvara-Divinski.

Because the gait of a horse is similar to the gait of a human, for someone in a wheelchair, for example, riding a horse works core muscles that wouldn't otherwise be used. Then there's the emotional side of it. “The fact that they have an attachment with the horse and the volunteer that works with them, they learn to trust and the horse trusts them,” said Veyvara-Divinski.

“Also, there's a sense of empowerment. If you are powerless in your own life then you are now on an 1,100 pound being steering it, you're now in control to do that.”

PRANCE also has an 'Equine Facilitated Wellness' program which, Veyvara-Divinski said, is basically like psychotherapy with a horse. “You're using the horse as an agent to help you through trauma, grief, anxiety and other initial issues that go on in your life that are taking you away from your regular life and the horse is going to bring you back.”

A tour of the facilities, pony rides and tractor rides were all on offer as well as games such as the horseless horse race, where children had fun running around a field, jumping over horse jumps and other obstacles. There was also a 50/50 draw.

The indoor demonstration was well attended as PRANCE members showed how therapeutic riding works. “Therapeutic riding is more than coming out and just having a ride on a pony,” said instructor Jenn Sanderson. “There are so many more benefits than just enjoying the company of the horses even though that is part of it. Therapeutic riding is beneficial physically, intellectually, emotionally.”

Veyvara-Divinski was pleased with the day's events. “It went very well for a first round,” she said. “We had a good time ... we had 85 for dinner which was awesome, so I'm happy with that.”Steve Ann Sienna JessicaEllaPeyton Louise KenSam and Simon