A dream begins with a person committed to the idea that they can accomplish what they are seeking to do. Cindi Winner, program director with EquiGrace, Inc. has been involved with horses since she was little. Winner always loved being around horses and in 2003 she turned that love into a way to enhance other’s lives.
Winner became certified with Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International. PATH is an organization that began in 1969 and is committed to standards in Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies
PATH currently has 7,500 individual members with 6,300 equines and 850 PATH centers. Winner has worked in several areas in Colorado, but was finally able to find land in the Bailey area to open her own center in 2015.
The center is located on County Road 68 and boasts an area where the therapy horses are allowed to interact with emotionally or physically disabled children and adults.
In addition to their programs for the disabled, EquiGrace has a program for veterans and children from ages eight to 12 which they call Equibuddies.
The Equibuddies program meets for free at the Bailey Public Library on the second Friday of the month. The program is open to any child regardless of ability. In the library portion of the program, the children learn about horses, play educational games and make horsey crafts.
In addition to the library program, children can become involved in the EquiBuddies Horse Club which meets on the fourth Saturday of the month at the EquiGrace facility.
The program has a fee of $25 and includes pairing up with a EquiBuddy pony and learning everything about how to be around a horse and how to take care of the horse.
The therapeutic riding that students of all abilities are able to do promotes several great qualities through the work that Winner does with each of the students.
The benefits include more confidence for the students in their daily lives, a better sense of balance (horse’s movements actually are very similar to a human gait and this movement can increase the flexibility of the student), increasing the students strength, especially in their core (riding on a horse sitting up uses core muscles the most) and improved coordination.
I learned this firsthand when I visited EquiGrace’s facility. Winner put me on a horse named Annie and led me through the typical things they do with beginning students. The ability to move on the horse and try to stay balanced was an interesting change even for an experienced rider as myself.
As Annie was led through the arena, Winner had me reach, bend and grab various things around the arena, all the time paying attention to the muscle groups that were being used throughout the exercise period.
We spoke about how each of these movements help any of the students as they grow in confidence and ability.
I also met two of the students who regularly attend the program, Rayne Adams and Mack Port.
Adams’ mother Piper said, “The improvement that I’ve seen in Rayne since she’s been coming here is amazing. She is more confident, has much better balance and has moved through the program to where she is now riding in an English saddle.”
I was able to watch Adams go through the program after I completed my portion. The smile on her face and the confidence that she had while she was on the horse was wonderful to see and she went through the exercises without a hitch.
Port is in a wheelchair and Winner is hoping to be able to get a carriage for him in the future so he can ride behind the horse. The interesting things that Winner does with Port are allowing him to tell the horse what he wants the horse to do by using an iPad.
Port can select the trainer he wants to use and the movements that the horse will go through every step of the way with this iPad.
Afterward Port gets to brush the horse. Port is non-verbal but his face lights up whenever the horses come near him. He also gets excited watching someone else go through the program.
Winner is in need of volunteers who can come out and help with everything that is going on at the facility. The volunteers can also be the person leading the horse in the arena with the children.
“We are also looking for more students to join us, either through the EquiBuddies program or others in need of the therapeutic bonding with the horses,” Winner said.
EquiGrace is also looking for donations anytime to help them continue this educational program. For more information about EquiGrace, visit their website www.equigrace.com or email them at email@example.com.
They also have a Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/EquiGrace or you can give them a call at 303-838-7122.