Dun­more rid­ing arena hosts chil­dren equine ther­apy pro­grams

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - Dunmore/sask. - BY JUSTIN SEWARD— South­ern Al­berta News­pa­pers

When Forsyth Ranch Arena owner Mor­ley Forsyth pur­chased the prop­erty just off Town­ship Road 120 in Cy­press County, he weighed his op­tions as to how to use the in­door rid­ing arena to help con­nect chil­dren’s ther­apy and horse­back rid­ing.

He had gone through a di­vorce six years ago and it was five years ago he com­muted two and a half hours from his Saskatchew­an ranch to the arena where he boarded a horse.

The feel­ing of rid­ing his horse changed his out­look on life while go­ing through a tough time.

“It kind of made me feel that I could for­get my wor­ries for awhile. It was so re­lax­ing,” he said.

“Dur­ing the time I was do­ing that, the arena come up for sale, and it’s not some­thing I would ever imag­ine. But it’s what it did for me and wanted to be able to ex­pand that for other peo­ple that are go­ing through is­sues.”

Once he took over the prop­erty, the in­door rid­ing arena be­gan with rid­ing lessons, bar­rel rac­ing, team rop­ing and ex­panded two years ago into a Speech Ther­apy pro­gram.

“The rid­ing lessons got to be very pop­u­lar,” he said.

“We’ve got two full time rid­ing in­struc­tors. The big­gest thing is to have enough horse power to han­dle the kids.”

Fam­i­lies have seen change in their chil­dren since they have got­ten up on the sad­dle.

“I have had so many par­ents come to me af­ter their daugh­ter or son have been in it and say how it changed their life,” said Forsyth.

“There’s one mom that would come and we were just talk­ing and I said how nice her daugh­ter was and how she loved rid­ing horses and how I ap­pre­ci­ated her be­ing re­spect­ful. She goes ‘I guess now you say she’s com­ing here she’s a to­tally dif­fer­ent kid.’”

“That’s what we’re see­ing is we’ve had a lot of kids get­ting in trou­ble. They get set to come into the arena and it just changes their whole fo­cus on life.”

His fo­cus on the young rid­ers had come from his ranch­ing back­ground and when he saw many kids not hav­ing the op­por­tu­nity to ride a horse or to ex­pe­ri­ence a ranch­ing and farm­ing life.

“My goal my whole life was to be more than just horses,” he said.

“I al­ways wanted a place where I could bring school tours to. I could teach kids the real ranch life and not what they see on the movies. This is just a glimpse of the whole pack­age that I wanted to do. But at least I’m get­ting this much where they can come out and see the horses. The horse is a pow­er­ful an­i­mal that you got to re­spect it. Whereas on the movies, the rider can do what they want.”

The Speech Ther­apy pro­gram with speech ther­a­pists and places a fo­cus spe­cial needs kids.

“Some­thing to do with rid­ing the horse in­creases the core mus­cles and they say words they nor­mally can’t say. It’s hard to ac­tu­ally be­lieve but if you’ve seen it, it’s ab­so­lutely amaz­ing,” said Forsyth.

A suc­cess­ful speech story came a year ago when a mother brought in her fiveyear-old spe­cial needs son.

“I asked about what she thought of the pro­gram and she started to cry,” he re­called.

“I said I’m sorry. She said ‘ no it’s a good cry.’ She said ‘I started com­ing here three weeks ago. This is the third time my son has been here. I can un­der­stand what he is say­ing but no­body else could un­der­stand what he is say­ing.’”

“‘I’m scared to death with horses. I was afraid I would pass that on to my son.’

On the first day, he was laugh­ing and gig­gling and loved it. That day they were here, the horse’s name was Buck and when they were walk­ing out of the barn I opened up the door and my son turned around and said ‘Bye Buck.’”

Speech ther­apy is all day on Mon­days and Wed­nes­days.

The Irvine School Eques­trian pro­gram has been a pi­lot project this year for equine stu­dents to come learn rid­ing skills over the win­ter months.

Horse shows and 4H events are also be­ing held at the in­door arena.

More in­for­ma­tion on pro­grams can be found at http://www.forsyth ran­charena.com.

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