December 2017 Issue - page 4

Page 4
December 2017
PENNSYLVANIA EQUESTRIAN
Horse Power For Life
said. “We really encourage the
whole family to do it, since the
whole family is involved in the
treatment.”
Previous riding experience
is not needed to take part in the
program. Sometimes it is one
family member who is interested
in riding while the others are
involved with the horses less
directly, or simply watch from
a distance. It is the experience
with the animals in a soothing
environment that helps relieve
the stress that goes along with
cancer and impacts the patient
and their entire family.
“The horses are formida-
ble, big, somewhat intimidating
animals when you don’t live and
work around them every day,”
Smith said.
Smith recalls how her
horses helped her deal with the
physical and emotional stress
from cancer. “At the times that
I could be with the horses, it’s
almost as if they knew--they
sense something. They seem to
give you this wonderful sense of
peace. Their presence and their
quietness and their demeanor is
very gentle and soothing. That
for me happens both on the
ground when I’m working with
them and when I’m riding,” she
said.
“We have had a handful of
clients that did have pretty exten-
sive horse backgrounds. I would
say 95 percent of our students
have never been around a horse
before,” Radie said. “It’s struc-
tured riding instruction, but they
do not have to ride if they don’t
want to.”
Begin with the Basics
Because most of the Horse
Power for Life students are
beginning riders, they begin with
learning the basics of handling a
horse such as haltering, leading
and tacking up. Over the course
of the 16 sessions, most students
go from total inexperience with
horses to being comfortable at a
rising trot.
One aspect that is related to
the rider’s condition is that they
are required to have a physician’s
consent. “We want their oncol-
ogist to know we are doing the
program, and then they write
down any restriction for them,”
Radie explained.
In addition to the original
program offered by Horse Power
For Life, there is now a week
long summer camp experience
for youngsters affected by can-
cer.
Smith has expanded her ex-
isting camp program to include
Horse Power For Life young-
sters. The Horse Power For Life
children are included in all of
the regular riding camp activ-
ities including morning riding
lessons, swimming, lunch, and
crafts.
“We had six students at camp
who were here through donation
from supporters of Horse Power
For Life. There are 12 to 15 who
are on a waiting list for next sum-
mer,” Smith said.
Camp sessions are not re-
stricted to Horse Power For Life
students. A roughly 50-50 mix
of students can be found in the
camp.
As with the original pro-
gram, some of the camp students
are recovering from cancer, while
others are dealing with cancer in
other family members. “It’s been
a tremendous stress on them all,
its life changing,” Smith said.
“It’s so nice when you get to
find out how incredibly special it
was for the client and the whole
family.”
“To be able to give back
to those who are struggling, in
some way, shape or form means
so much to me,” Smith said.
“It’s as much of a gift for me
to be able to do it, as for them
to receive it. I really do under-
stand. There is nothing that can
be said to make anybody feel
better.”
For more information visit
the website at
-
forllife.org or the Horse Power
For Life facebook page.
(Continued from page 1)
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