Courage Kenny Offers Horse Therapy for Children with Disabilities
Every week at the Washington County Fairgrounds, Bonnie Reyers brings over a special volunteer named Chex for an opportunity that requires a full-team effort.
“We’re empty-nesters, and so [Chex] needs a job too,” Reyers said. “And he’s good with kids.”
Reyers and Chex, her horse, are part of Courage Kenny Riders, a horseback riding therapy program for children and youth with disabilities.
“The volunteers are incredible,” said Megan Welty, a manager at Courage Kenny’s adaptive sports and recreation department in Golden Valley. “I mean, without the volunteers, and the volunteers that are actually providing the horses to come out here today, we wouldn’t be able to run this program.”
The 45-minute program helps the riders relax and tone their muscles as they meander about the arena.
“There’s just a lot physical activity that can happen through the horse,” Welty said.
For the past few weeks, Chex has been paired with a rider named Marcus, who’s been a part of this horseback riding program since he was 5 years old.
“He just loves it,” said Tammy Rumpca, Marcus’ mother. “Every summer he loves coming, it just makes him feel so happy, and he has great pride in riding on the horse.”
Yet this activity isn’t just about exercise and relaxation. The Courage Kenny volunteers also incorporate some fun, like an activity where the riders shoot “zombies” with squirt guns.
It’s one of the many ways they try to make the program special for the participants.
“It’s so special that they do that and they come out with their horses week after week and just, rain or shine, they show up,” Rumpca said.
Living with a disability comes with a host of challenges, but for this one day a week in Washington County, people like Marcus can put those challenges aside to enjoy their time with a calming creature.
“They’ve had a nice bond,” Reyers said of Chex and Marcus. “They work well together.”