Appreciating a morning with Heroes on Horseback

I had an opportunity to visit and experience a local organization run by an enthusiastic group of volunteers. Just a few miles from where we live, Heroes on Horseback has been in existence for many years, and is, to directly quote their website: a Premier Accredited Center of PATH International focused on providing safe, professional and ethical equine assisted therapeutic activities for individuals in the Lowcountry with physical, mental or emotional disabilities.

Checking out the location and center in advance to ensure we were aware of any potential issues, concerns and approvals for photography, we made our visit on a warm Saturday morning. The center was extremely well run, well manned with plenty of smiling, helping and knowledgeable volunteers.

The morning was broken into 3 one hours sessions, to ensure that the volunteers could fully support 4 riders per session. Moving around the paddock/arena, to minimally disrupt any of the planned activities, I managed to get some good photographs of the engagement of helpers and riders. It was really nice and amazing to see the engagement and interaction of the children and the horses. The concentration, enthusiasm, smiling faces, verbal and physical commands and control was fantastic to see and watch. Having only been on a horse myself a few times before, many, many decades ago, the understanding and the skill of the riders was amazing. As the photos may show, there was a range in ages, and speaking to the volunteers, some of their riders had been coming on a regular basis for many years. Also it was evident that a structured program was in place, for the sessions, which put both riders and horses through many exercises and an obstacle course. The riders had to perform several exercises and watching them maneuver in the saddle was really quite a sight. They even had them rotate to face the rear as part of the exercise! No hands!! Brought back memories of those old westerns!