That component is research.
“This program focuses on validating the use of the horse as a therapy tool for children and adults with disabilities,” said Windridge director Margo Dewkett.
At Windridge, those with disabilities ride horses and the movement of the horse stimulates the rider’s body.
“The reason the horse works is that the movement of the back of the horse causes our bodies to work in reciprocal action. It manipulates our bodies to the finest degree, as if we’re walking,” Mrs. Dewkett said.
An anonymous donor purchased an equine treadmill for Windridge, which allows them to “quantify” the work the horse is doing. In a climate-controlled therapy room in their arena, they can measure the miles per hour at which the horse is traveling and also measure the amount of time the horse spends on the treadmill.
They can regulate the animal’s pace, with the rider on him.
Mrs. Dewkett said that they currently have five horses trained for the treadmill.
She said the information which comes from this result will help prove the benefits of equine therapy. It will also help them qualify for grants in the future.
The rider on the horse is in a harness and always wears a helmet.
“Safety is our main concern,” the director said.
Windridge is located near Diana.
It currently serves 138 clients a week. The youngest is 18 months, and the oldest is 82.
They were the first equine center in East Texas, and served initially a 90-mile radius. Since facilities recently opened in Texarkana and Canton, they now serve a 60-mile radius.
Their programs are funded by donations from individuals, corporations, civic organizations, foundation s and program fees.
In addition to research, other parts of the program include:
1. Therapeutic Riding: Horseback classes that provide therapy, education and life skill benefits for children and adults with mental, cognitive and/or physical disabilities or life debilitating situations such as abuse, addictions and/or delinquency.
2. Therapeutic Driving: Program participants learn how to drive a horse-drawn vehicle and receive therapeutic benefits as well as life skills.
3. Hippotherapy: Licensned physical, occupational or speech therapists are responsible for the direct treatment of children and adults with mental, cognitive and/or physical disabilities. The horse is used as a therapy tool and efforts must be collaborated with Windridge’s NARHA certifed therapeutic riding instructors.
4. Horses for Heroes: These are alternative therapy services for veterans with disabilities. A veteran may participate in their therapeutic riding or driving program or the hippotherapy program.
5. Quest for success: The teenage volunteer fosters positive peer interaction and group cooperation, at the same time strengthening morals, ethics and leadership skills. These skills are developed while a teen assists instructors with a rider’s class time.
6. Adult Volunteer Program: Windridge provides volunteer opportunities for individuals, churches, corporations and civic organizations and community service groups.
7. Therapeutic and Equine Mastery. This multi-faceted program is unique in several ways, including:
• School-to-work pgrams for Windridge volunteers desiring a career and employment with Windridge as a NAHRA certified instructor.
• Opportunities are provided for college student rotations and internships.
• Educational materials are written and produced for the therapeutic equestrian industry, universities and the general equine industry.
• With the advancement of telecommunications, Windridge is developing its ability to provide education via webcast streaming to universities and medical centers.