Overcoming the Odds with Horse Therapy

For those with mental challenges especially, animals can provide great comfort.  They can even be therapeutic.  That's the goal behind Vermont Horse Assisted Therapy (VHAT) at Pease Farm in Middlesex, Vermont.

Pease Farm Stable owner/operate, Sarah Seidman, created the non-profit nine years ago. 

"We provide therapeutic riding experiences to people of all ages, with mental or physical or social, emotional or economic challenges."

Seidman says she has about 15 students participating in group VHAT programs, and another 15 riding individually.  Nathan Bruce is one of those students, who has now been horseback riding for three years under Seidman's guidance.

"My favorite part of horseback riding is posting," said Bruce.  "It makes me feel happy because I love riding horses."

Bruce has Down Syndrome and had difficult executing certain techniques on horseback, that he can now do with ease.

Seidman says she has had hundreds of VHAT students over the years, but the goal is to focus on the needs of each individual rider.

"We believe that every individual can ride a horse," says Seidman.  "We just adapt the riding for each individual student,"

"I think she's amazing and beautiful and she's so nice," said Bruce, about Seidman.

Seidman says she works with people of all ages.

"We start as early as four years old and have students as old as 70," Seidman says.  "We work with people with Parkinson's, cerebral palsy, autism, and developmental delays; It can also be very helpful for bullies, or people who need to come out of their shell."

She says though horse therapy is not a miracle-worker, she has seen improvements in various facets for nearly every student she has taught.

"I'm going to keep doing it," says Bruce.

VHAT isn't the only program of its kind in Vermont.  High Horses in Sharon, Champ in South Hero, and the Southern Vermont Riding Program in Wilmington are a few others. 

Many of these programs depend solely on donations.  If you'd like to donate to VHAT, click here.



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