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The Success of the Equestrian Program at The Devereux Glenholme School

(Washington, CT)

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Equestrian Program at The Devereux Glenholme School
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The Success of the Equestrian Program at The Devereux Glenholme School
Washington, CT - Therapeutic riding is a continually emerging field in which horses are used as a tool for physical therapy, emotional development and learning. Many riders experience a genuinely solid connection to the horse that few sports can create. Not only does this help raise self-esteem, but it also teaches essential skills. It improves balance, develops trust and creates a friendship between rider and horse. For individuals with social or emotional differences, the unique relationship formed with the horse can lead to increased confidence, patience and self-esteem. The sense of independence found on horseback benefits all who ride. The therapeutic qualities of horseback riding are recognized by many medical professionals, including the American Physical Therapy Association and the American Occupational Therapy Association.

The Devereux Glenholme School in Washington, Connecticut has had great results with its equestrian program. The Glenholme School is a specialized boarding school on over 100 acres in the Litchfield Hills of Connecticut that provides a therapeutic program and exceptional learning environment to address varying levels of academic, social and emotional development in boys and girls ages 10-18. Glenholme’s goal is to prepare its graduates for continued education in traditional schools, boarding schools, colleges and universities.

Whether used for training or as a reward, time spent with the Glenholme horses has shown positive results for the students. To care for and ride a horse, a student needs to be calm, focused and caring. For a student with Asperger’s Syndrome or ADHD, some of these characteristics are difficult. When a student realizes that he/she has to embody these qualities to have a positive experience with a horse, the equestrian experience is a great motivational and behavioral modification tool.

Caring for Glenholme’s horses has brought out the best in many of the students over the years. The challenging process of caring for a beautiful animal develops useful skills and a respect for life. Horseback riding is an integral part of the education program and lessons are available to students who wish to advance their riding skills.

Students at Glenholme often reach an advanced stage in the equestrian sport and this year three of those students have been selected to expand their skill applications in an exciting new venue. Students Lara B., Sarah P., and Corrine D. are part of a six-day field trip this summer to McGinnis Meadows Cattle and Guest Ranch located in Libby, Montana. The girls will be accompanied by Heather Perssonatti, Glenholme’s Equestrian Program Coordinator, who researched and arranged this exciting trip for the girls. They will have access to unlimited riding, cattle work, cattle drives, mountain biking, swimming and fishing, as well as the experience of enjoying one of the most gorgeous, unspoiled parts of the country.

McGinnis Meadows is a guest and cattle ranch in northwest Montana. The main emphasis at McGinnis is their horse and cattle program. At McGinnis, each group of three to four guests is assigned to one wrangler who guides them through the Buck Brannaman style of horsemanship, working cattle and exploring the countryside. The Brannaman style of horsemanship teaches why a horse does what he does. This method works well for riders, new and experienced, because of the kinship that develops between horse and rider. The Brannaman style of horsemanship was featured in the 1998 major motion picture The Horse Whisperer, and Mr. Brannaman, a friend of and occasional teaching mentor at McGinnis Meadows, was the technical advisor and Robert Redford’s stunt double for the movie. Guests can improve their horsemanship, and use their skills to move cattle herds around the 75,000 acres of wide open meadows and timbered mountains at McGinnis Meadows. “Working” the cattle entails sorting, cutting and penning the herds.

The girls are very excited to be chosen for this unique experience. Lara said, "I can't believe that I am actually going there. This has been one of my life long dreams." "This is probably a once in a lifetime experience," was Sarah’s response and Corrine smiled non-stop and reacted with "I can't wait!”


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