Today, MLA Leonard spoke about the Comox Valley Therapeutic Riding Society in the Legislature. You can read the transcript below, or find a link to the video here.
There is a beautiful, sandy network of trails along the bank of the Tsolum River in Courtenay-Comox that lead into a forest that’s blanketed in fawn lilies and trilliums in the springtime. Adjacent to this little piece of paradise is our exhibition grounds, with an unassuming barn that houses a most amazing program.
Between September and June, out of that barn and into the natural elements come children and adults with diverse abilities riding specially trained horses and ponies surrounded by trained volunteers. Now in its 33rd year, the Comox Valley Therapeutic Riding Society serves about 100 children and adults with the invaluable help of 150 volunteers. Qualified therapeutic riding instructors teach riding and working with physical challenges, and other staff come with experience in facilitation and working with youth.
Volunteer coordinator and program scheduler Hilary Doucette brings all the pieces of the puzzle together so everyone succeeds. Referrals come from doctors, therapists, schools, and even family can directly refer their children to this program that changes lives.
The program has traditionally served people with physical challenges, but more recently, the vast majority are children with autism, ADHD, anxiety, depression — children who are lacking skills to manage their feelings and behaviors. Executive director Nancy King explains how the horses mirror the feelings of the rider, and that feedback helps the children to learn to self-regulate, gain physical coordination and confidence.
Julie Mclaughlin shares how the therapeutic riding helped their adopted boys and how barn buddies helped their youngest son gain social strength. Volunteer Ann Laurie describes how it’s the most gratifying volunteer job she’s ever had, watching the transformation of the children on their gentle ponies.
Big thanks to the volunteers, horses, staff and funders. Congratulations to all who benefit from the therapeutic riding program.