A Proud Equestrian

From left, volunteer Maureen Garvaglia assists rider Steven Short on horse Drifter along with volunteers Katie Cherney and Carolyn Mentel during the Dickinson County 4-H Proud Equestrian Program last week at the Norway fairgrounds. The PEP is a therapeutic horseback riding program for youth and young adults ages 5 to 26 in Dickinson County and surrounding areas who have physical and/or cognitive disabilities. PEP operates under the direction of a certified instructor, along with a number of youth, teen and adult volunteers. It’s designed to improve balance, posture, coordination, muscle tone, confidence, self-esteem, discipline and social growth of riders. In addition, it improves the rider’s fine and gross motor skills, while providing core strengthening and positive sensory stimulation. Volunteers who participate in this program are able to explore career opportunities in the field of therapeutic riding and other related fields such as medicine, education and rehabilitation. They are also able to demonstrate increased awareness, sensitivity and appreciation toward those with disabilities.